The LPGA's Race to the CME Globe is changing for 2019 and beyond, and the tour's season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will benefit.
The CME Group is taking the $1 million prize for winning the Race to the CME Globe and directing it into the purse for the CME Group Tour Championship, bumping up the first-place prize from $500,000 to $1.5 million. The move effectively makes the conclusion of the Race to the CME Globe seamless with the CME Group Tour Championship. Win one, win the other.
Since the Race to the CME Globe began in 2014, the winner of the season-long points race won a $1 million bonus. The current system gives the top five players heading into the CME Group Tour Championship a mathematical chance of winning the $1 million bonus. That math will no longer be in play from 2019.
This means qualifying for the CME Group Tour Championship is an even bigger deal than it was. If a player is in the top 60 in points (down from the current top 72) and qualifies, they have a chance to win $1.5 million in a single week, which is life-changing money on the LPGA. That winner's check will be the richest on the LPGA and more than 33 of the 47 events on the current PGA Tour schedule.
The LPGA Tour season now ends with a $5 million purse, making the season-ending event one of the biggest purses on the entire calendar, level with the US Women's Open, which has long been the most lucrative event on the schedule.
“I'm a big proponent of equality,” said CME Group CEO Terry Duffy. “I have a very balanced management team between women and men. I think it is best generated from those ideas, and I make sure there is equal pay for equal jobs. So, I'm very much in favor of that.”
LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said this idea was in the works before the PGA Tour dramatically overhauled the format and payouts for the Tour Championship. Ultimately, the LPGA has the true one-game playoff in golf.
“The new Race to the CME Globe is easier to understand and easier to follow, and, quite frankly, it’s a huge win,” Whan said. “At the end of the day, any player can look at the leaderboard at any time and know where she stands, because that's what she has done the 33 weeks before that. Makes it pretty simple.”