Amy Yang earns massive payday with win at LPGA Tour Championship
Heading into the 2023 season, Amy Yang decided not to wear any sponsor logos on her hat. Coming off an elbow injury, she wanted to minimize all the pressures of fulfilling sponsor’s expectations and focus just on golf.
Eleven months later, Yang doesn’t have to worry about living up to expectations anymore — and she’s sure to have plenty of sponsorship suitors heading into 2024.
Yang, a 34-year-old from South Korea, won the CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday with a 26-under total. And as soon as her winning putt dropped, several of her fellow pros swarmed her on the green and doused her in champagne.
“[It means] a lot,” Yang said. “They mean everything to me. Thank you so much for waiting for me.”
With the win, her fifth on the LPGA Tour, she takes home a record $2 million — and the biggest title of her career.
Yang fired rounds of 68, 63, 64 and 66 for the week at Tiburon Golf Club as she claimed her first win on American soil. She also becomes the fifth South Korean to win the season-ending event, joining Jin Young Ko, Sei Young Kim, Na Yeon Choi and Hee Young Park.
“I’ve always wanted to win my first [tournament] in the United States,” she said. “It’s a great honor to have my first win here.”
Yang entered the final round in Naples tied for the lead with Nasa Hataoka at 21-under. Hataoka, a six-time LPGA champion from Japan, held the lead through 12 holes, but on No. 13, Yang hit the biggest shot of the tournament.
With a wedge in her hand at the short par-4, Yang floated her approach directly over the flagstick and zipped her ball back into the bottom of the cup. The eagle gave her the lead for the first time all day.
“It was about 80 yards, a little help downwind” Yang said. “I saw it landed really close to the pin. For a split second I thought, ‘Oh, it’s gonna go in.’ That definitely was some good momentum. I was so nervous down the stretch. I just tried to keep telling myself, ‘I can do this. I can do this.’ I’m just so happy I made it.”
Hataoka bounced back with a birdie at No. 14 to pull even once again, but an untimely short miss at 16 dropped her out of the lead for good. While Hataoka played the final three holes in one over, Yang played them in two under to claim a three-shot victory.
Alison Lee, who came into the week as one of the hottest players in the field, also posted 24 under to share runner-up honors.
Yang’s trophy was not the only hardware handed out Sunday. In addition to the Race to CME Globe trophy, the LPGA also finalized its Player of the Year race with Lilia Vu coming out on top. Vu, 26, won four times this season — including two major championships — to become the first American since Stacy Lewis in 2014 to earn the honor.
“It’s been unreal,” Vu said of her dominant season. “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 … I’m just honored and grateful for everything this year.”
Atthaya Thitikul, the second-year LPGA pro from Thailand, also clinched the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average on the season.
“It’s mean a lot,” Thitikul said. “It means we are heading to the right direction.”
Her scoring average of 69.533 was 14th lowest in the award’s history as she became the first pro to win the Vare Trophy without the benefit of earning a victory throughout the season.