Suzann Pettersen fired a final round three-under-par 68 to earn her second career major at the inaugural Evian Championship.
The 32-year-old Norwegian shot rounds of 66, 69 and 68 for a total of 203, 10 under par, in the rain-shortened, 54-hole event. She finished two strokes clear of 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who began the day tied for second.
Queenslanders Karrie Webb and Katherine Hull were the best placed Australians. They finished in a tie for 15th position at two-under-par total. Unfortunately Lindsey Wright didn't have a great final round and finished tied for 52nd at five-over. Sarah Kemp finished in 77th position.
The third and final round quickly turned into a duel between Ko and Pettersen, after overnight leader Mika Miyazato bogeyed the first hole and dropped out of contention with a five-over-par front nine. Ko pulled ahead on the first hole, but Pettersen birdied the second and maintained her lead.
Pettersen, who won the 2007 LPGA Championship, already had three wins this season - one on the LET and two on the LPGA – not to mention her solid performance as a member of Europe’s winning Solheim Cup team. The Evian, which was her 19th career victory, capped a tremendous five weeks for the World No.3 and she is projected to move to second on the Rolex Rankings.
Pettersen said: “It was definitely worth waiting a while for this one, a major! I was actually a bit nervous coming down the stretch but on 18 I said to Brian [Dilley, her caddie], I’m just going to go for it; I’m too good to lay up. I tried to scramble a par.”
After early morning rainfall, which delayed the start of the play by an hour and a half, the majority of the final round was played in warm and dry conditions.
After gaining the advantage on the second, Pettersen birdied the third, bogeyed seven and picked up another shot on eight, remaining a stroke clear of Ko at the turn.
She moved two clear after Ko found a fairway bunker and bogeyed 13, although both players birdied 15. The pair matched each other with pars on the last three holes, allowing Pettersen to take home the €366,393 first prize. As an amateur, Ko could not take home the €223,963.83 second-place cheque.
However, she revealed that she is expecting to turn pro ‘very soon.’
“It's not only what I'm saying. It's my parents and everything. They have a big say in it as well. Obviously people all around the world have their say. I'm seeing some articles saying, ‘Oh, no you shouldn't. You should wait.’ I guess at the end of the day, it's my support crew that's going to help me make the correct decision. Yeah, it's secret. I got to get my mom's permission to say anything.”
With her performances in professional tournaments so far, Ko could have earned approximately US$1.2 million. Pettersen said: “Lydia is a star of the future. She’s good enough to win majors at 16.”
Although Ko, a winner of four professional titles, missed out on becoming the youngest ever winner of a major championship, she said: “I was pretty happy with my round today. Like yesterday I gave myself a lot of the chances to make birdies, so I hit it much closer to the pins. I probably did half of that today.
“I don't expect myself to make everything, but it was really good to know that I could come so close to the winner at a major. Second is my best finish at a major tournament.”
Ko shot a final round 70, with Lexi Thompson of the USA in solo third, two strokes further back at six-under-par. South Koreans Se Ri Pak and So Yeon Ryu were tied for fourth at five-under, with Angela Stanford, Stacy Lewis and Chella Choi sharing sixth at four-under-par.
Miyazato, who led the first two rounds, ended in tied 15th at one-under-par after a seven-over 78 in the final round.
Spain’s Beatriz Recari was the second best European in a share of ninth place while Holly Clyburn, the Deloitte Dutch Ladies Open champion, was the best Ladies European Tour rookie in a tie for 27th place on one-over-par.
For Pettersen, the victory at the Evian Championship also marks the second straight event that she’s won on the LPGA Tour. The past month has certainly been a special one for Pettersen, who won the Solheim Cup with Europe and tallied four top-3 finishes in her last five events.
“It's been such a great month, five weeks for me, starting off with the Solheim,” Pettersen said. “I mean, the feelings during the Solheim never really gets old. We had a fantastic team. It was kind of a great kick start for what became probably the month of my career.”