The LPGA and Ladies European Tours return to Evian-les-Bains this week for another edition of the Evian Championship. Who will claim the penultimate major of the year?
DEFENDING CHAMPION: South Korean Jin Young Ko shot 15-under-par 269 when this event was last played in 2019, defeating Shanshan Feng, Hyo Joo Kim and Jennifer Kupcho by two shots to claim her second major title of the season.
COURSE: The Champions Course at Evian Resort Golf Club opened in 1904 and has hosted this event since its inception as the Evian Masters on the Ladies European Tour in 1994. The 5,965-metre, par-71 layout is set amidst 148 acres of parkland and overlooks the picturesque Lake Geneva. It was completely redesigned by European Golf Design (EGD) in 2013 and now features one of the most difficult opening holes players will face all season.
The course has also received its fair share of criticism, with Lexi Thompson taking to Instagram after missing the cut two years ago to write: “You're a beautiful place Evian but that's just too many bad breaks with good shots for me.”
Thompson, along with several other top-ranked players including our own Hannah Green, will be missing from the field this week as they finalise their preparations for next week's Olympic Games.
PLAYERS TO WATCH …
Defending champ Jin Young Ko owns an incredibly impressive record at the majors, recording two victories, three additional top-5s and finishing inside the top-25 in 12 of her 20 starts.
The 26-year-old World No.2 returns to Evian in winning form, too, having claimed her eighth career title at the Volunteers of America Classic earlier this month.
Ko, who was leapfrogged by Nelly Korda in the world ranking last month, has never missed the cut here since making her first appearance back in 2015, posting three top-40 finishes prior to her victory in 2019.
The consistent Korean has only missed the weekend’s action once since missing the cut at the Women’s British Open back in 2018 – and she has since accumulated seven worldwide victories and 23 further top-10s from her 55 starts.
RIGHT: Jin Young Ko won her second major title of the season in 2019 when she triumphed at the Evian. PHOTO: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images.
World No.1 Nelly Korda arrives in France in blistering form, having won back-to-back tournaments – including her maiden major title at the Women’s PGA Championship – prior to last week’s teams’ event where she shared 33rd place with her sister, Jessica.
The soon-to-be 23-year-old doesn’t possess the strongest record at the Evian just yet, however she has improved every time she has visited, missing the cut in 2017, sharing 61st in 2018 and finishing T25th in 2019.
Korda has already bagged six LPGA Tour titles in her young career – three of which have come in 2021 – and is fast becoming a regular contender at the majors, where she has netted three top-15s from her four most recent appearances. It’s safe to say, therefore, that the exciting American should be thereabouts once again.
Will this be the week Minjee Lee breaks into the major winner’s circle? The Perth product will be making her 36th start at the majors this week and will be eager as ever to become the latest Aussie to taste major glory.
Australia’s top-ranked female player – at 15th in the world rankings – returns to the Evian in decent if not spectacular form, thanks to her share of 9th alongside reigning US Open champ Yuka Saso in the teams’ event last week.
Lee, who will be jetting off to Tokyo to represent Australia in the Olympics next week, is yet to claim a top-10 finish at the Evian, despite owning three top-25s from her six appearances.
The 25-year-old will need to rediscover her elite short game – which has fallen away slightly throughout the 2021 season – if she’s going to find success this week.
72-HOLE RECORD: South Korean In Gee Chun fired 21-under-par 263 in 2016 when she defeated her countrywomen So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park by four shots. American Juli Inkster, meanwhile, reached 21-under 267 when she bested Han Hee-won by six shots in 2003.
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: Karrie Webb (2006), Wendy Doolan (2004) and Rachel Teske (2001). The event did not receive its major status until 2013.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: Sarah Kemp, Katherine Kirk, Steph Kyriacou, Minjee Lee and Su Oh.
Round 1: Thursday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 11:30pm – 2:30am)
Round 2: Friday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 11:30pm – 2:30am)
Round 3: Saturday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 7:30pm – 1am)
Round 4: Sunday (Fox Sports 505 LIVE 7:30pm – 1am)
*AEST, check local guides