NAPLES, Fla. — Caroline Masson had it going on Friday at the CME Group Tour Championship. The 30-year-old German shot a bogey-free, six-under 66—highlighted by a length birdie putt from the fringe on 18. She's in solo second at 10 under, two shots behind leader Sei Young Kim.
It has been a while since Masson's name has been mentioned as much as it has been over the last few weeks. She hasn't won since 2016, when she won the Manulife LPGA Classic. It's her lone LPGA Tour win.
But here she is in Florida, in contention. She had top-10 finishes in July, August and September. Then in October, just three weeks before the CME, Masson got dangerously close to her second LPGA Tour win at the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA. She was in a three-way playoff with Nelly Korda and Minjee Lee, with Korda coming out victorious. The whole situation was made a little more interesting by the fact that Masson is engaged to Korda's caddie, Jason McDede.
It's not that Masson hasn't done anything since her win in 2016. She is ranked No. 40 in the world, had a second-place finish at the Meijer LPGA Classic For Simply Give in 2018 and a T-3 at the 2017 Ricoh Women's British Open. But those were moments of success. What is happening now appears more sustained, more consistent.
Masson believes that getting into that playoff in Taiwan, though it did not result in a victory, is part of the reason why she's in contention at Tiburon Golf Club.
"I felt for years that I'm ready to win again. I should be up there more. But sometimes you just have to prove it to yourself to really believe it," Masson told Golf Digest. "It was a big confidence booster, and with mixed emotions, because I had such a good chance to win. But I told myself, 'This was not your last chance.' It was a key week for me."
Masson attributes her recent success to the last three years of work she's been doing on her golf swing. She sees David Leadbetter, and when the two started working together, the goal was to create a swing that is more consistent. In order to do that, Masson had to commit to a long process, trusting that what they were doing was going to work instead of slipping into tinkering mode when the results didn't come right away.
"Making it tighter, making it more consistent and I think it's reflecting in my game now," Masson said. "My bad weeks aren't very bad and my good weeks are good enough to compete and to win. It hasn't been one swing change. We didn't rush it, and we didn't feel like we had to do it all at once. Just that patience, having the same goals, it's really helped me be confident. It's so easy to get lost when you're trying lots of different things. It's been key for me to have a path that I'm following. It calms me down. And it's working well."
It takes fortitude to believe in a process when the results aren't where you think they could be. But Masson has been able to do it. Her reward: finding the best of her game at a moment where it really matters. The winner at the CME Group Tour Championship will win $1.5 million, the highest winner's check in the history of women's golf.
Maintaining her confidence through this weekend, while her game is good, might feel easy compared to the time she's spent believing in herself when she wasn't in contention. "Once you're riding that high, it's all a little easier," Masson said. "We're seeing it getting better, and it just proves we're doing the right thing."