Big guns in form ahead of Evian Championship

Richard Hazeldine Richard Hazeldine

Women’s golf moves to France this week for the fifth and final major championship of the LPGA season – the Evian Championship.

It promises to be an exciting weekend on the shores of Lake Geneva with several players arriving in southeast France in top form.

This season has been unusual in that no one player has dominated the tour in the same manner that South Korea’s Inbee Park and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko have done in recent years.

The wins in 2017 have been spread evenly among the top players, although several players have two wins (Lexi Thompson, Park Sung-hyun, and Ryu So-yeon), while In-Kyung Kim is the only player on tour with three wins to her name.

Defending champion In Gee Chun may not have a win to her name this season, but she is in good form nonetheless. Her latest outing saw her finish in second place with a total of 19 under par behind winner Stacy Lewis at last month’s Cambia Portland Classic.

The 23-year old South Korean broke the record for the lowest score in the history of major competition last year when she finished at 21 under, and will be eager to repeat her heroics and grab that first win of the season.

Another player to have refound form recently is former world number one Lydia Ko, who snapped out of a months-long slump with a second place at last weekend’s Indy Women in Tech Championship.

At 28 starts since her last title, Ko is in the longest winless run of her career, not having tasted victory since the 2016 Marathon Classic, but the 2015 Evian champ bounced back last week to shoot rounds of 65, 64 and 72 as she came in four shots behind final round playing partner Thompson.

”It was nice to be kind of in that position again, and even though I wasn’t the one holding the trophy at the end of last week,” said Ko after the tournament.

“I still felt like I played good golf and tried my best out there, and the most important thing was just being in that atmosphere, being in that kind of position again, and it just builds your confidence.”

Other players who could threaten this week include world number two and last week’s winner in Wisconsin Thompson, while world number one Ryu is also likely to be in contention come the weekend.

Rookie and current money list leader Park, three victory Kim and Canadian Brooke Henderson are also possible winners.

Meanwhile, the Evian Championship will also feature an emotional moment in the retirement of Japanese women’s golfing legend Ai Miyazato, who will be playing her final tour event in France.

The former World number one has fond memories of Evian, having won here in 2009 and 2011 before the tournament became a major.

In 2011 she donated her winnings to help victims of the devastating earthquake in her homeland.

Miyazato has nine career LPGA titles and 15 on the JLPGA tour.

Having made the decision to retire, Miyazato is still unsure what she wants to do after golf.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “I’m actually not making a decision on purpose because … until the last moment, I still want to focus on my game and I want to enjoy every single moment.”