Lydia Ko caps comeback season by notching Vare Trophy

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NAPLES, Fla. – Lydia Ko didn’t complete her comeback season with the CME Globe, but she’ll still leave Tiburon Golf Club with some hardware.

Ko capped the CME Group Tour Championship with an 8-under 64 on Sunday to lock up the Vare Trophy, which goes to the player with the lowest eligible scoring average for the season. Ko finished with a 69.34 mark in 73 rounds.

“It's really special because obviously it sums up the whole season,” Ko said. “All the other things do, too, but at the end of the day golf is about how consistently well you can play and what kind of low score you can shoot. And the Vare Trophy obviously exemplifies that.”

Ko ended a 1,084-day win drought in April by capturing the Lotte Championship in Hawaii, won bronze at the Olympics in August in Tokyo and posted 11 total top-10s this season. She didn’t know she was in the running for the Vare, as she trailed both Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda in scoring average. But both players weren’t going to meet the minimum-round requirement of 70. Neither was Lydia before she added last week’s Pelican Women’s Championship to her schedule following a LET win in Saudi Arabia.

Full-field scores from the CME Group Tour Championship

“I didn't even know that I was close this year until news came out and I realized a couple months ago,” Ko said. “Last week wasn't really on my schedule but ended up being worth it.”

By the time she arrived in Naples, Lydia, barring something crazy, had all but secured the Vare. While her run at the $1.5 million winner’s check fell short, mostly because of her third-round 72 and Jin Young’s stellar play, Lydia was pleased with how she capped her season.

She didn’t make a bogey while carding six birdies and an eagle at the par-5 17th hole.

“Going into today I think I was a little frustrated over yesterday,” Lydia said. “I had been hitting the ball so well the last few weeks, and I was like, Man, I hit some of these shots that I was like maybe even a 20-handicapper wouldn't even hit. Yesterday in the evening I was like, I just really, really, really want to play well tomorrow. …. I just want to finish the season off on a high. You want to finish every tournament on a high, but this being the last one, there is no redemption. There is no next event.

“But especially with the Vare Trophy, I think, being at the back of my mind I think I just really wanted to top it off, and to be able to have done that I think there is no better way to finish this year.