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LPGA finale a thriller for Kerr, Ko, Park

NAPLES — Cristie Kerr was the player of the week. Lydia Ko was the player of the year and pocketed another $1 million bonus. Inbee Park will be among the players of all time.

One tournament, three celebrations. And just as the LPGA intended, the season finale was dramatic until the end.

Kerr won the season-ending Tour Championship on Sunday, taking the lead for good with a 12-foot eagle putt on the par-5 17th and soon wrapping up her 18th career victory. Her $500,000 first prize, which pushed her career earnings past $17 million, almost seemed ancillary given the stakes Ko and Park were playing for this week.

"Good golf is just good golf," Kerr said. "It doesn't really matter what age it is. I think I proved that."

The 38-year-old said she doesn't plan on slowing down soon. Ko, 18, became the fourth player to go from rookie of the year one year to player of the year the next. The others: Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel and Annika Sorenstam, greats all, and Ko is well on her way to that status.

"I said if I could choose one of the awards, I would choose player of the year," Ko said. "To know that I am the player of the year, it's an awesome feeling."

Ko won the $1 million bonus for winning the Race to the CME Globe, just as she did last year. And Park wrapped up a trip to the Hall of Fame by winning the scoring title, meaning the only step that remains between her and induction is completing her 10th season on the tour next year, a prerequisite for eligibility.

"I said the Hall of Fame will be my last goal, but it really came early, and I achieved pretty much everything I set so far in my career," Park said. "There is plenty other goals to set."

Kerr shot 4-under 68 and finished at 17-under 271, one better than Gerina Piller (67) and Ha Na Jang (69), who shared the third-round lead with Kerr. Lexi Thompson (68) was 14 under. She and Paula Creamer were among the U.S. Solheim Cup teammates who doused Kerr with champagne on the 18th green moments after she tapped in a 2-footer to end the season.

PGA EUROPE: Rory McIlroy won the season-ending World Tour Championship and the Race to Dubai for a $3,208,300 payday. He shot 6-under 66, one better than third-round leader Andy Sullivan (68) at Dubai, United Arab Emirates, finishing at 21-under 267 for his third European Tour win of the season. McIlroy earned $1,333,300 for the win and $1,875,000 for the Race to Dubai title — $1.25 million for topping the list and a $625,000 bonus for playing three of the four events in the Finals Series. "To be European No. 1 for the third time in four years, that was a goal of mine at the start of the year, it was a goal of mine in the middle of the year, and it was definitely a goal coming into these last few weeks," he said.

PGA: Kevin Kisner earned his first tour win, taking the RSM Classic at St. Simons Island, Ga. He shot 6-under 64 to shatter the tourney record by four shots at 22-under 260, six ahead of Kevin Chappell (67).

LPGA finale a thriller for Kerr, Ko, Park 11/22/15 [Last modified: Sunday, November 22, 2015 8:44pm]
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