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Ko and Jutanugarn to duel in LPGA finale

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/11/2016

Lydia Ko © Getty Lydia Ko The LPGA Tour's major prizes will be fought out between Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn in Florida this week.

The Tour Championship in Naples hands New Zealand's world No.1 Ko the chance to win the $US1 million ($NZ1.4 million) Race to the CME Globe points title for a third straight season.

However, she is giving away ground on arch-rival Jutanugarn in several categories this year, including the lucrative points race prize.

The 19-year-old has won four titles and lodged 13 top-10 finishes but she has been surpassed in both categories by world No.2 Jutanugarn, who has finished the season stronger than the out-of-sorts Kiwi.

The points rankings have been reset heading into the Tour finale, leaving the top nine golfers all with a mathematical chance of clinching the points crown.

Victory will be enough for Ko to snare a hat-trick, regardless of where Jutanugarn finishes.

Ko won the tournament in 2014 to seal the points prize while a share of seventh at the Tiburon Golf Club last year helped see off Korean Inbee Park in a tight season-long duel.

Form is a problem for Ko, who has failed to finish in the top-10 at her last five tournaments.

She bombed at the two most recent majors and was 43rd in her last-start at appearance at the Japan Classic.

Jutanugarn has notched five top-10s in seven events since her tour-leading fifth victory in August.

Also at stake between the pair this week is the player of the year points race and season earnings, both of which Jutanugarn leads.

Ko has the season's lowest scoring average.

Her top spot on the world ranking isn't under threat.


World rankings: Ko 1st, Jutanugarn 2nd

LPGA points race: Jutanugarn 4491 points 1, Ko 4365 2.

LPGA player of the year: Jutanugarn 261 points 1, Ko 247 2.

Season earnings: Jutanugarn $US2.475 million 1, Ko $US2.458 million 2.

LPGA lowest scoring average: Ko 69.611 1, Jutanugarn 69.923 5.

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