Lydia Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn tee it up in a pivotal week in the Rolex Player of the Year race.
Ko can take back the lead in the points race if she wins the Toto Japan Classic this week.
Jutanugarn can clinch the award with a victory.
Ko and Jutanugarn will each tee it up just one more time after Japan, in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship in Naples, Fla., in two weeks.
“At the end of the day, we are just trying to play good golf out there,” Ko said in Japan. “The rankings and the awards come after our play.”
Jutanugarn is seeking to win her first Rolex Player of the Year Award. Ko is trying to win it in back-to-back years.
Jutanugarn leads Ko by 13 points. A player must finish among the top 10 in an event to earn POY points. A victory is worth 30 points with second place worth 12 points and third worth nine. Points are awarded down to a single point for 10th place.
Ko leads the Vare Trophy standings, with a 69.552 scoring average. In Gee Chun is second with a 69.615 scoring average. Ha Na Jang is third at 69.921 and Jutanugarn fourth at 69.941.
Ko also leads the money list, with $2,451,642 in winnings. She is $3,744 ahead of Jutanugarn.
Jutanugarn leads the Race to the CME Globe standings. The winner of the season-long competition claims a $1 million prize. Jutanugarn is just 51 points ahead of Ko. The object is to rank among the top nine in the standings going to the CME Group Tour Championship, where only the top nine have a chance at the $1 million jackpot. The points are reset in Naples. The top three in the reset are guaranteed winning the top prize with a victory in Naples.
There are 500 points available to this week’s winner with 300 for second, 190 for third. Points are awarded down to 40th place, where 31 points are available.
Japan’s Haru Nomura holds the ninth spot in the CME Globe standings.
Here are the top 15 in the CME standings:
1. Ariya Jutanugarn, 4,416.
2. Lydia Ko, 4,365.
3. Brooke Henderson, 3,186.
4. Sei Young Kim, 2,753.
5. Ha Na Jang, 2,579.
6. Minjee Lee, 2,451.
7. In Gee Chun, 2,442.
8. Anna Nordqvist, 2,440.
9. Haru Nomura, 2,439.
10. Amy Yang, 2,233.
11. Shanshan Feng, 2,051.
12. Stacy Lewis, 2,034.
13. Carlota Ciganda, 1,803.
14. So Yeon Ryu, 1,749.
15. Mirim Lee, 1,744.