Lexi Thompson enters this week’s LPGA season finale, the CME Globe Tour Championship, as the leader in the year-long Race to the CME Globe points standings. She also arrives at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, without one of the burdens she’s carried for much of 2017.
Thompson told Golf Digest’s Tim Rosaforte that her mother, Judy, recently received a clean bill of health from doctors after going through treatment this year for uterine cancer. Judy plans to be in Naples to watch her daughter compete this week. It’s the kind of good news that potentially could propel Lexi in a year that’s had its emotional ups and downs on and off the course.
Not only is the $US1 million bonus within the 22-year-old’s grasp – Thompson could win the season-long race with even just a T-40 finish at the Tour Championship – a victory would secure the Rolex Player of the Year title. She is fourth in the ranking for POY, trailing So Yeon Ryu, Shanshan Feng and Sung Hyun Park, after a season that’s included two wins and eight top-five finishes in 20 starts. It would be the first time that Thompson has earned the coveted POY title. She also would be just the second American woman to win it since 1994, joining Stacy Lewis (2012 and 2014).
With a 69.147 average, Thompson also holds a lead in the race for the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average. Her nearest challengers are Park (69.259) and In Gee Chun (69.269). So long as Thompson finishes at least 10 strokes better than Park and Chun, she will win this title for the first time in her five-year LPGA career.
Much of Thompson’s strong play has come after arguable the most difficult moment of her competitive golf life, her runner-up finish at the ANA Inspiration after being assessed a four-stroke penalty in the final round. Shortly after, she won the Kingsmill Championship and continued to improve on the course. More importantly, however, the maturity she’s shown in the face of her mother’s more difficult challenge and after the death of her grandmother in September has many people ready to cheer for her this week in Florida.