Naples, Fla. — Lexi Thompson was the best this week, and Ariya Jutanugarn was the best all season.
Neither left any doubt about that Sunday.
Thompson shot a 2-under 70 to finish at 18-under 270 and win the LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship by four strokes over Nelly Korda. The win makes this the sixth consecutive year that Thompson has won at least once, extending the longest such active streak on the LPGA Tour.
“Golf is my life,” Thompson said. “But it is just what I do. I’m coming to realize that. Still not there some of the days because it is so much a part of my life, but it is just a sport. There is so much to life other than that, my family and my friends and just loving every bit of that and just being grateful for what I have.”
Jutanugarn took the other two big prizes that were up for grabs this week, clinching the yearlong Race to the CME Globe prize — and the $1 million bonus that comes with that — as well as the Vare Trophy for winning the season’s scoring title. The world No. 1 already had wrapped up player of the year honors, and finished 2018 with a 69.415 scoring average to edge Minjee Lee (69.747) for the top spot there.
Jutanugarn shot a 66 on Sunday, finishing the week tied for fifth at 12-under 276.
“It felt great today,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m very proud of myself.”
Jutanugarn briefly lost the lead in the projected Globe standings on Sunday after Brooke Henderson made three birdies on her first seven holes to grab the top spot.
Charles Howell III made a 15-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a playoff with Patrick Rodgers in the RSM Classic at St. Simons Island, Georgia, to end an 11-year victory drought.
Howell, 39, dropped to his knees and buried his head in his hands, then tearfully embraced his wife and two children. He earned $1,152,000 and a return trip to his hometown of Augusta, Georgia, in April to play in the Masters for the first time since 2012.