Tour Championship weekend contenders all had to mentally prepare for the opportunity | Golf News and Tour Information

NAPLES, Fla — The scrutiny, the stories and the eyes focused on Nelly Korda and Jin Young Ko ahead of the CME Group Tour Championship. Their ways of beating the world caught attention as they won 27% of the LPGA events between them, and Korda won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. As their battle for Rolex Player of the Year remains tight at Tiburon Golf Club, with Ko (T-9) at eight under par and Korda (T-5) at nine under, four players stand above the two. dueling powers.

Tour Championship leader Céline Boutier is at a tournament record of 14 under par over 36 holes, and the T-2 trio of Gaby Lopez, Minjee Lee and Mina Harigae, led by four, find themselves ahead of the No. 1 and No. 1 worldwide. 2 by building on the confidence they have built in themselves throughout the season.

Even with Boutier’s two victories in a recent three-week span – in his home country of the LET Lacoste Open in France and the Shoprite LPGA Classic – it remained a challenge not to look at Ko’s performance against the odds. to his. “It’s really easy to compare yourself to others and start looking at them,” Boutier said. “It was something that was a little difficult for me, especially when I had big duets or when I played with Jin Young Ko or whoever seemed to me to be a great player, which there is a lot out there. . “

Although she beat Ko and Inbee Park in New Jersey for her second career LPGA victory, it’s still difficult for Boutier to look away from the beaming talent. “You just start to look at them and forget about your own game,” Boutier said. “I think it’s been really important for me to just focus on myself. I mean it’s still a fight even now, but I’m trying to do it a little bit better.”

Lopez focuses on daily journaling to encourage herself to stay more present. Recently, the 28-year-old has fought for mistakes instead of being taught from them. “I get really hard on myself and I get very hard,” Lopez said, “so sometimes I just don’t validate myself enough. When I’m doing great things, I just write down all the great things that have happened that have happened. Just like today, I have to be very aware of all the things I am doing well, so I focus on the right things.

Lopez uses positive thinking to help himself enter an area of ​​mental competition instead of dragging himself down. This season, she’s had five top-10s, including applying self-validation to a T-6 at the Pelican Women’s Championship last week.

Lee has fought the label of one of the most talented players without a major win throughout her career. It got even worse when she went two years without an LPGA win. Before his first major win, at the Amundi Evian Championship in July, his previous win was the Open Hugel Air-Premia LA in April 2019. “I’ve been here for seven years,” said Lee, “but you keep coming back. back to feeling like, oh, am I really in my place here, if you don’t win for a little while? ”

Lee regained her confidence by teaming up with US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso for a fifth place finish at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational the week before her major breakthrough. She also saw her brother Min Woo Lee win the Scottish Open in early July. Now Lee is sure his game can travel in any situation.

“It’s just like a little quiet confidence to me,” said Lee, “just so that I can go out there and play with confidence and know that I can play under pressure and play well under pressure.”

Harigae began to discover his confidence at the Drive On Championship at Reynolds Lake Oconee and punctuated him with a fourth place finish in the Tour Championship last year. But, instead of aiming to emulate the two best players in Race to CME, the 31-year-old is focusing on what she can do.

“Being able not to compare myself to Jin Young and Nelly is important,” Harigae wrote, “especially for me because my game is nothing like theirs. I think being comfortable with my style of play and who I am playing a big role in self-confidence. “

The 11-year-old veteran carried that momentum to the Solheim Cup, where the fulfillment of one of her dreams fueled her self-confidence. “Honestly, being able to pull off the shots I took in my games and do some clutch putts,” Harigae said Thursday, “I think that gave me a ton of confidence. Almost like I did. could do it there in that kind of atmosphere, I can really do it anywhere on any course in any tournament.

It’s a test of confidence that Harigae and the other contenders have been working on all season.

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