6 tour pros who surprisingly won't be playing in the LPGA's CME Group Tour Championship
Patty Tavatanakit was able to breathe a little easier after Sunday’s finish at The Annika driven by Gainbridge than she had the previous three rounds. Coming into the penultimate event of the 2023 LPGA season, the 24-year-old Thai native was sitting uncomfortably in 61st place in the Race to the CME Group Tour Championship, just outside of the top 60 who qualify for the event with the most lucrative first place prize money payout in women’s golf: $2 million. Tavatanakit shot 11-under 269 total for the 72-hole tournament, finishing T-15. That scored her enough points to move up from 61st to 57th on the points list. She’s in.
Other players weren’t so fortunate. Here are six tour pros—major champions and Solheim Cuppers among them—who surprisingly won't be traveling to Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Fla., this year.
No. 100 Lydia Ko
In 2022, Ko left the CME Group Tour Championship with more awards than she could carry. She was the Player of the Year, won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and won the tournament itself—cashing that $2 million winner’s check. This year has been a tougher season for the 26-year-old New Zealander. Granted her play has been much improved as the year progressed; she finished third in last month's BMW Ladies Championship followed by T-11 at Maybank Championship—but didn’t score CME points at either event because she was playing as a sponsor’s invite.
No. 91 Jeongun Lee6
The 2019 U.S. Women’s Open champion and LPGA Rookie of the Year had just one top-five finish in 2023. This despite the fact that a year ago she finished T-4 at the Tour Championship, and the other two times she played in the event, she finished in the top 15.
No. 79 Lexi Thompson
Thompson’s play at the end of the season was so good, it’s hard to believe she’s not going to be playing in Naples. She finished T-8 or better in her last three tournaments, and nearly made the cut in a PGA Tour event. Unfortunately, for the LPGA veteran, the shaky beginning of her season put her at too much of a points deficit to be able to get into the Tour Championship, which she's missing for the first time since its inception in 2011.
No. 76 Maria Fassi
You’d think three top-10 finishes would be enough to get into the Tour Championship. But like Thompson, Fassi had simply too many missed cuts during the course of the season for her to be able to score enough points to get into the season finale.
No. 75 In Gee Chun
In 2022, Chun won her third major when she eked out a one-shot victory at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Congressional. But she finished in the top 10 just once in 2023.
No. 70 Emily Kristine Pedersen
Pedersen was part of history at the Solheim Cup in September, making the second-ever hole-in-one in the biennial event and helping the Europeans retain the Cup with a 14-14 tie. She had a chance to make it to the CME Group Tour Championship if she made par on the 18th hole on Sunday at The Annika, which she was leading after 54 holes. Instead, she made double, and her season ended there.