Lydia Ko commits to Saudi events; latest to be ineligible for Vare Trophy
Count Lydia Ko among those who won’t be able to win the LPGA’s Vare Trophy.
Ko has decided to play in a pair of events in Saudi Arabia, it was first reported by Golfweek. As such, she will miss the LPGA’s penultimate event and will not play enough rounds on tour to qualify for the award, which goes to the player with the season’s lowest scoring average.
Ko is currently fourth in the Vare Trophy standings, but the three in front of her – Nelly Korda, Jin Young Ko and Inbee Park, respectively – will not play enough rounds to qualify. The LPGA mandates a player complete either 70 rounds or 70% of official tournament rounds, whichever is less, to be eligible for the scoring title. The former comes into play this year.
Even in competing in the final two events of the season, Korda and Jin Young Ko will not complete enough rounds to reach the threshold. Park has already concluded her season and did not reach 70 rounds played.
The remaining events on the LPGA schedule include the Pelican Women’s Championship, Nov. 11-14, and the CME Group Tour Championship, Nov. 18-21. There are 27 official events which count towards the Vare Trophy this year (104 rounds).
Ko has played in 65 rounds this season and if she plays all four of the finale, will only reach 69.
In Gee Chun, currently fifth on the scoring list, is scheduled to play the final two events. She now has 68 rounds played. She would be the first in line to capture the award.
The Vare Trophy also comes with a full point towards a player’s LPGA Hall of Fame eligibility. It takes 27 points to qualify; Ko currently has 19.
The two events in Saudi Arabia are sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour. The first, the Aramco Saudi Ladies International, is Nov. 4-7. It is an individual tournament. The second, the Aramco Team Series – Jeddah, is Nov. 10-12. It is the fourth and final team/individual tournament of a series, which has contested events in London, England, Sotogrande, Spain, and New York.
Several notable LPGA and LET players have competed in the Aramco series, including Charley Hull, who won the individual tournament in New York, and Jessica Korda, who was part of the victorious New York team. Major champions Georgia Hall and Anna Nordqvist are committed to the Jeddah event.
Last year’s Saudi Ladies International, won by Solheim Cup player Emily Kristine Pedersen, was the first women’s tournament contested in Saudi Arabia.
The events are backed by the Saudi government’s Private Invest Fund, which is the same group that is supporting LIV Golf Investments. The LIV company announced on Friday Greg Norman as its CEO, in what is believed to be the beginning of a Saudi-backed rival to the PGA Tour.