CME Group Inc., owner of the world’s largest futures exchange, has agreed to sponsor the LPGA Tour’s new season-long points competition for women’s golf that’s similar to the FedEx Cup on the men’s U.S. PGA Tour.
The inaugural Race to the CME Globe will begin with the LPGA’s tournament in the Bahamas on Jan. 23-26 and run through the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in Mexico on Nov. 13-16. The CME Group Tour Championship is scheduled to be held the following week in Naples, Florida, with the event winner receiving $500,000 and the final leader in the points competition getting $1 million, the largest payout in women’s golf.
“The addition of this concept fundamentally connects every event on our tour and promises big things in 2014 and beyond,” LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan said in a statement. “The stakes have risen dramatically and the excitement level goes up for our players and each of our tournaments.”
The PGA Tour since 2007 has had a season-long points race, which allows players to qualify for its playoff events based on their performance and then compete for a $10 million bonus.
On the LPGA Tour, points will be awarded at each tournament to members who make the cut for weekend play. In invitational events without a cut, points are awarded to the top 40 finishers, and the tour’s five major championships will carry 25 percent more value in points.
At the end of the season, the top 72 players in the Race to the CME Globe points standings -- and any non-qualified golfer with at least one official LPGA win -- automatically make the field for the CME Group Tour Championship. Points are reset for the final event to give the top yearly performers an advantage, yet doesn’t guarantee victory, the LPGA said.
“I was so honored to win the LPGA money title in 2013 and now I have something bigger to play for,” said South Korea’s Inbee Park, who is the top-ranked female golfer in the world and had $2.5 million in earnings on tour last season. “This new race is going to make everyone on our tour work a little bit harder because the payoff is so big.”
CME Group has sponsored the LPGA’s season-ending event -- previously called the CME Group Titleholders -- since 2011. The LPGA is the world’s biggest professional women’s golf tour, with over 2,300 members representing more than 30 countries.
“The LPGA is the most diverse tour in the world and that is a great fit for us,” CME Group President Terry Duffy said. “Sponsoring the new CME Group Tour Championship provides our company with a powerful branding opportunity in a way that appeals to our global customer base.”