Wednesday, January 8, 2014

LPGA Sweetens Membership Pot in 2014 with Race to the CME Globe

The LPGA and CME Group have put together a season-long points race starting in 2014 called the Race to the CME Globe that awards $1M (in unofficial money) to its winner.  Even with the 1st-place prize for the newly-renamed CME Group Tour Championship reduced to $500K, we still could see someone walk away with $1.5M on Sunday, November 23, 2014!

Brent Kelley has the big picture on the Race to the CME Globe, but here a slightly finer-grained overview:
  • only LPGA members are eligible to earn points, and only in official 2014 LPGA events from the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic to the Lorena Ochoa Invitational;
  • in a typical event, everyone who makes the cut gets points; in events without a cut, top-40 finishers will get points, except for at the limited-field Ochoa event, where only the top 20 will;
  • wins in regular events are worth 500 points and wins in majors are worth 625 points, as all points are increased by 25% in majors;
  • points will be reset after the Ochoa to ensure that the race is decided at the Tour Championship (see Randall Mell's overview for further details on the reset);
  • points earned at the Tour Championship will be added to each player's reset points to determine the winner of the Race to the CME Globe.
So even if a non-member gets into the Tour Championship by winning an official LPGA event (thereby pushing the field list above the 72 players who are tops on the points list and any members who won in 2014 but didn't make it into the top 72), she will not be playing for that $1M bonus.

This is a huge incentive for the best female golfers in the world to seek LPGA membership and to play as many LPGA events as possible even if they maintain membership on another tour.  Dual members who get off to good starts in 2014 (or who do well in early majors) will thus have to keep an eye on the points list as they decide what the rest of their schedule will look like.  If they get too far behind the points leaders, even the reset won't allow them to win the race for the $1M; only those in the top 3 entering the Tour Championship will truly be able to control their own destiny and only those in the top 9 will be able to win the race with a win at the Tour Championship.  And with the 5 LPGA majors spread out in April, June, July, August, and September, players won't be able to rely on a hot streak at just the right time, as in past seasons when the majors were much more bunched, so pacing themselves will be an important feature of this race, as well.

All in all, this is a huge deal for the LPGA and a huge prize for its members to shoot for in 2014!  Randall Mell points out that it's been 6 years since $1M was on the line in a single event on the LPGA, ever since the ADT Championship bit the dust.  This is yet another sign that the LPGA is back to pre-Great Recession standing.

[Update 1 (3:52 pm):  Nice to see I'm on the same wavelength as Karen Stupples!]

[Update 2 (1/11/14, 11:24 am):  Interesting perspective from Ruthless Mike!]


Tony Jesselli (Tonyj5) said...

This is just fantastic news. No more of that top 3 qualifiers each week. I never thought that worked.

This will create excitement all year long.

With 5 new tournaments (including the International Crown, and now this, the 2014 season is shaping up to be avery exciting one.

Another great move My Commissioner Michael Whan.

dave andrews said...

I think it's a great new feature and should generate a lot more interest in the tour. Mike whan and his staff are to be complimented for their tireless and imaginative work in gowing the tour in many different ways. I bet the players and the event sponsors are very pleased by the job he has done since he took over. The 2014 season should be a lot of fun to follow.