Karrie Webb and recently turned professional Minjee Lee will lead the Australian contingent at this week’s Evian Championship being played at the picturesque Evian Resort Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains in France.
The pair are joined in the field by fellow compatriots Katherine Kirk, Lindsey Wright, Sarah Jane Smith, Sarah Kemp and Nikki Campbell. All the players, except Lee and Campbell, played their way into the tournament through the LPGA.
The Evian Championship, is the fifth and final major on the LPGA schedule for 2014. 120 players, including 19 of the top 20 players from the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, will be vying for their share of the US$3.25 million purse.
Lee got her start through a sponsor invite when she was ranked as the World No. 1 amateur, while Campbell secure one of the final spots, after being in the top 5 on the Ladies European Tour, (LET) Order of Merit at the end of last week’s event in Sweden.
Lee is paired with England’s young gun Charley Hull and China’s rising star Xi Yu Lin for the first two rounds. When asked about if she was nervous heading into her first event as a pro, she responded, “I’m not nervous, just excited at the moment. I might be a little nervous on the first tee shot on Thursday, but we will see.”
Webb loves coming to Evian, “I look forward to this event every year, it is one of my favourite tournaments and places to visit, the views from the golf course are spectacular.”
For Campbell, who has been a professional for over 10 years, is playing in Evian for the first time. The Canberra golfer has qualified in previous years but decided it was too far to travel from Japan for just one event.
“It was a long way to come for one event, but now I’m in Europe, I am glad to have the opportunity to play in it.” She said during her practice on Tuesday.
When asked about her impressions, she responded “It’s beautiful, everyone talks about how beautiful Evian is and now I know what they are talking about.” “The golf course is great, it’s tough, it’s long. The facilities are amazing, the views are amazing, I’m loving it.”
Campbell is a two time winner on the LPGA of Japan and has been playing well in Europe this year. A couple of changes have contributed to her improved performances, “I have been playing a bit better this year. I got some new irons and changed golf ball, went from the Pro V1X to the Pro V and its helped a bit, everything is just a little bit better.”
Regarding her chances this week, “It is quite long for me, if I play well it will suit me, but I will have to play well, I will have to strike it well. I hit the ball quite high, so I think that will be good as long as I am hitting them well, I think it is an advantage but you still have to play well and it is quite demanding because of the length.”
Australia has a great record at the Evian tournament. Prior to 2013, it was known as the Evian Masters and three Australians have their name etched on the trophy. Rachel Hetherington won in 2001, while Wendy Doolan walked away as the champion in 2004, followed by Webb in 2006.
The defending champion is Norway’s Suzann Pettersen. Last year Pettersen held off New Zealand’s Lydia Ko down the stretch.