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Ariya Jutanugarn birdied the last two holes to win the CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2017 in Naples, Fla. Greg Hardwig/Naples Daily News

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Nearly all of them talked about the fact they never found the necessary momentum to challenge for the CME Group Tour Championship on Sunday at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.

The group of 14 players lacking the momentum all started the final round within two shots of the four leaders who were 10 under par, knowing realistically a good round would put them in contention for the $500.000 first prize.

Even three of the four leaders playing in the final two groups – Michelle Wie, Kim Kaufman and Suzann Pettersen – never found the needed spark, drifting out of contention on the final nine holes.

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Probably the two players most disappointed were Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea and Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg, who reached the final hole 13-under-par, one shot behind then-leader Lexi Thompson. Ji watched a 20-foot birdie putt roll over the top of the hole while Lindberg missed a short par putt.

“I watched the scoreboard and knew where I was but missed a great putt on the final hole,” Ji said. “I made a lot of putts this week outside of 15 feet, so that makes for good scoring.

“I was trying today you know, just to play my best every shot,” she said.

Lindberg, who shot a 4-under-par 68 , produced her best CME Group finish in four appearances.

“I missed some good opportunities putting and today was a close call so that is something positive to take away from the week,” Lindberg said. “I kept watching the leaderboard out of the corner of my eye but then at the end nothing really good comes out of losing."

Wie had a crazy, up-and-down round, making seven birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey at No. 9 when her approach shot landed near the sod wall of a greenside bunker and she didn't have a direct shot to the green. A final birdie at No. 14 pulled her within one shot of Thompson, but a bogey at No. 15 dropped her to 12 under par.

“I made some birdies today but I also ended up making costly mistakes, like at the ninth hole,” Wie said. “But all in all it was a good way to end the year."

Nelly Korda finished three shots behind her older sister, Jessica, shooting a 68 for a tie for eighth at 11 under par.

“Yeah, I had two opportunities at No. 17 and again at No. 18, they both came close,” Korda said. “If it’s not your week, it’s not your week. I’m happy with the way I finished.

“I’m happy with the way my season ended, now I’m ready to get some rest. I was in contention a couple of times this year and kind of let it slip away.”

Kaufman, battling mononucleosis and planning a return trip to her Clark, South Dakota, home for a long rest, bemoaned the lack of any momentum.

“Never found one spark the entire round ... absolutely nothing,” said Kaufman, who played in the final pairing at 10-under-par. She shot a 71 to tie with Nelly Korda and In-Kyung Kim.

“I was a little shaky at first as I have been all week because of the mono but then I steadied the ship. But the momentum sure went south for me.”

Stacy Lewis started the final round one shot behind the four leaders and never got closer, shooting a 1-under-par 71 to tie for 11th at 10 under par along with Pettersen and three others.

“I’ll tell you I had nothing going the entire round, no momentum whatsoever,” Lewis said. “And my own game was all over the place and I never had a comfort level like the previous days.

“In fact, I ended up watched the leaderboard during the final holes, trying to figure out who was going to win all the season long titles and the money.”

 

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