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Jutanugarn claims LPGA Player of Year

AAP logoAAP 20/11/2016

Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn has capped her breakout season by clinching the LPGA Tour's million-dollar points bonus and Player of the Year honours as Britain's Charley Hull won the Tour Championship.

Hull shot a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to out duel second-placed Ryu So-yeon of South Korea (67) at Tiburon Golf Club in Naples, Florida, posting a 19-under total of 269 to claim her first LPGA Tour victory by two stokes.

Jutanugarn, a five-time winner this season, shot 69 to finish in a tie for fourth at 14-under-par and claim $US1 million for winning the Race to the CME Globe bonus.

She also clinched Player of the Year ahead of world No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who posted a final-round 72 to be tied 10th at 11 under.

"When she shot like 10-under, I feel like 'OK, have fun.' I think she going to win everything, that's what I feel," said the beaming 20-year-old, after being presented with a plexiglass box stuffed with her cash winnings.

Rookie of the Year Chun In-gee of South Korea finished with three birdies, the last one nudging her ahead of Ko to win the Vare Trophy for lowest season scoring average with 69.583 to 69.596 as she finished seventh.

Australia's Minjee Lee, a two-time winner in 2016, went into the seaosn finale with an outside chance of winning the $US1 million but battled to tied 16th, 11 shots behind Hull.

Lee was the leading Australian, with veteran Karrie Webb tied 36th at three under, Sarah Jane Smith tied 46th on even par and Su Oh tied 59th at five over.

The day's key turning point came at the 17th hole where Hull was tied with Ryu on 18-under and birdied the par-five, while Ryu took a bogey after having to hit out sideways from a greenside bunker.

"I was pretty calm," the Englishwoman said.

"When I'm on the golf course I'm trying not to think about golf and that's what I just did today and it kind of made me not think I was leading the golf tournament, so it's good.

"It's a pretty cool feeling. It hasn't quite sunk in yet.

"I just feel pretty good where I am at the moment. I feel like I'm mentally good. I feel relaxed.

"I think that's the key for me - if I come into a week relaxed, I feel good. This week it happened for me. I'm confident; I'm happy."

Ryu said she would not be too hard on herself after the near miss.

"I just really don't want to blame myself," she said. "I just take this one as just serendipity, you know."

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