Player of the year awards to get clar­ity on PGA, LPGA tours

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - SPORTS - DOUG FER­GU­SON

LAKE FOR­EST, Ill. — This week in golf should go a long way to­ward de­ter­min­ing player of the year. And not just on the PGA Tour. Lexi Thomp­son win­ning in In­di­anapo­lis last week tight­ened the race in the LPGA Tour’s points-based sys­tem. So Yeon Ryu, who counts a ma­jor among her two vic­to­ries this year, is lead­ing at 150 points. Thomp­son, who lost on that ma­jor at the ANA In­spi­ra­tion by be­ing pe­nal­ized four shots for not re­plac­ing her golf ball prop­erly on the green, is a mere three points be­hind.

Still very much in the mix are LPGA rookie Sung Hyun Park, who won the U.S. Women’s Open, and Women’s Bri­tish Open cham­pion I.K. Kim, who leads the tour with three vic­to­ries. Points are awarded based on top 10s, and the points are dou­ble this week at The Evian Cham­pi­onship, the fi­nal ma­jor of the year.

On the PGA Tour, all signs point to Justin Thomas.

He won at the TPC Bos­ton two weeks ago for his fifth vic­tory of the year to go along with the PGA Cham­pi­onship. The PGA Tour award is a vote of the play­ers, and about the only thing that can stop Thomas would be for Jordan Spi­eth to win the fi­nal two FedEx Cup events. That would give him five vic­to­ries, the money ti­tle and that claret jug from his Bri­tish Open ti­tle.

There might even be a bat­tle on the PGA Tour Cham­pi­ons, where Scott McCar­ron has caught up with Bern­hard Langer in vic­to­ries (four) and has pulled within $327,050 on the money list, though Langer has two ma­jors to McCar­ron’s one. Both are play­ing in Canada this week.

It’s also the sec­ond of four Web. com Tour Fi­nal events, this one in Idaho. That’s not about player of the year. It’s about get­ting a PGA Tour card, which for those guys is more valu­able than an award right now.

The Evian Cham­pi­onship

The PGA Cham­pi­onship dis­carded its slo­gan, “Glory’s Last Shot” be­cause it made it sound as though it was the last ma­jor, which it is (for now). That gave way to a new slo­gan, “This Is Ma­jor,” as if the golf­ing pub­lic needed a re­minder.

Both slo­gans are now ob­so­lete, though it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the LPGA Tour to bor­row ei­ther one.

The Evian Cham­pi­onship in France is the fifth and fi­nal ma­jor of the year, one last shot at glory un­til the next ma­jor in the Cal­i­for­nia desert six months from now. Or it could use “This Is Ma­jor” be­cause the Evian only be­came a ma­jor four years ago. In­bee Park won in 2012, so she now has won all five ma­jors, ex­cept that the Evian doesn’t count as a ma­jor be­cause it wasn’t one in 2012.

Ei­ther way, it could be shap­ing as quite a show. Ryu and Thomp­son are run­ning neck-and-neck in the Rolex Player of the Year stand­ings, while Ly­dia Ko is start­ing to show signs of break­ing out of a vic­tory drought that has lasted just over a year.

BMW Cham­pi­onship

Dustin John­son is the de­fend­ing cham­pion of the BMW Cham­pi­onship and still in good shape to claim the FedEx Cup, even if player of the year might be out of his reach with­out a ma­jor cham­pi­onship.

Ja­son Day is the de­fend­ing cham­pion at Con­way Farms, open­ing with a 61 two years ago on his way to win­ning by six shots.

The fo­cus at this pri­vate club north of Chicago is on fin­ish­ing in the top 30 in the FedEx Cup to ad­vance to the Tour Cham­pi­onship next week in At­lanta. Part of that bat­tle is to see which PGA Tour rook­ies can get to East Lake. RSM Clas­sic win­ner Macken­zie Hughes is at No. 31, while Green­brier win­ner Xan­der Schauf­fele is No. 32. Who­ever gets to East Lake typ­i­cally is voted rookie of the year, which is not a bad con­so­la­tion prize.

Rory McIl­roy and Ser­gio Gar­cia might not be win­ning any awards this year, but they’d still like to get to At­lanta. Both are out­side the top 30 and need to play hard.

Al­bert­sons Boise Open

Peter Uih­lein won the open­ing Web.com Tour Fi­nals event in Ohio and wrapped up his PGA Tour card, seven years af­ter he won the U.S. Am­a­teur. Still with work to do is for­mer Ry­der Cup and Pres­i­dents Cup player Hunter Ma­han.

There are still three events left, in­clud­ing next week at Can­ter­bury Golf Club out­side Cleve­land, and the fi­nale at At­lantic Beach Coun­try Club, just down the coast road from PGA Tour head­quar­ters.

STU­ART FRANKLIN/GETTY IM­AGES

Lexi Thomp­son, pic­tured, is hop­ing to pass So Yeon Ru this week­end in the LPGA Tour’s points-based rank­ing sys­tem.

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