NAPLES, Fla. — While Amy Yang took home the title and biggest check of the week – $2 million – there was plenty more on the line at the LPGA’s season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
Lilia Vu, the player who seemingly came out of nowhere to own 2023, put a bow on several more accolades after clinching the Rolex Annika Major Award earlier this season. A two-time major winner this season, Vu won her first tournament of the year in Thailand and kept on going.
“Last year I played golf with a lot of worry,” she said. “I just was worried about everything.”
Here’s a look at how the LPGA’s season-long awards shook out in sunny Naples, Florida:
Rolex Player of the Year
Vu earned her seventh LPGA Hall of Fame point this season when she locked up the Rolex Player of the Year Award. A four-time winner this season, including two majors, Vu closed the season with a 65 at the CME to finish solo fourth.
“I think it’s been unreal for (Player of the Year) to happen,” said Vu. “I think last year I was telling (caddie) Cole (Pensanti) on the last hole, I remember after the last round … I just broke down in tears. I was just really hard on myself. I was definitely hard on myself this year, too, but much nicer.
“Came in with no expectations and tried to win every tournament that I played in. Just kept my goals really small, and I think that really helped me achieve Player of the Year.”
Celine Boutier, another four-time winner this season, finished second in the points race, 34 points behind Vu.
Atthaya Thitikul didn’t win an LPGA event this season, but she did claim the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average. Thitikul finished the season with a 69.533 average, edging out South Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim.
Thitikul said that after winning twice last season and rising to No. 1 in the world, she put a lot of pressure on herself to build on that in 2023. She felt especially low after missing the cut at both the KPMG Women’s PGA and U.S. Women’s Open.
“At some point, I think when I play bad I feel like my world is destroyed,” she said. “That day is not going to be good anything. I’m not going to enjoy anything in that day if I play bad, which is not right.
“Golf is just golf. It’s like the work that we do. If you play good, yeah, it’s good. But if you play bad it doesn’t mean your life is bad or you had a bad day. Just another day. … I think golf and life have to be separate.”
Rookie of the Year
South Korea’s Hae Ran Ryu clinched the 2023 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award last week after finishing in a tie for 12th at The Annika driven by Gainbridge at Pelican.
The 22-year-old became the sixth player from South Korea to win the award since 2016 and the 14th Korean player to win since Se Ri Pak in 1998.
Ryu won the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship by three strokes over Linnea Strom and earned an additional five top-10 finishes.
A total of five rookies won this season.