The final major of the LPGA season, The Evian Championship, gets underway tomorrow evening Australian time, and should provide a fantastic spectacle at one of the most stunning venues in golf. The Evian Championship course is perched on the hillside in the town of Evian les Bains, which overlooks Lake Geneva and has breathtaking views of the Alps from almost every hole on the golf course. There are few places if any which can rival Evian in terms of its beauty, but if the 2016 LPGA season so far is anything to go by then the action on the course should be just as spectacular as the panorama.
World number 1 Lydia Ko comes to Evian as defending champion for the first time in a major championship. In 2015 she shot a final round 63 to take the title by a massive six shots over Lexi Thompson who had looked to have the tournament in the bag before Ko’s final round charge. Ko comes into the tournament leading the LPGA money list by around $260,000 from possibly the hottest player on the LPGA Tour this year, Thai sensation Ariya Jutanagarn who broke through for her first major championship at the Ricoh Women’s British Open in July.
The 19-year-old Kiwi sensation has been 8th and runner-up in each of her other two starts in Evian and is a deserving favourite this week
Jutanugarn has two wins, a runner-up and 5th place finish in her last four starts, the 20-year-old has the ability to completely overpower courses with her strength but may not find the narrower fairways and thick rough as much to her liking as she does other more forgiving layouts on tour. In saying this in 2016 we have seen a much smarter Ariya Jutanugarn, who rarely uses her driver off the tee. If she uses her 2 iron as effectively as she has done in recent weeks she could well be in the hunt for her second major championship come the weekend. Jutanagarn has played this event just once last year when she finished well back but is a vastly different player to the one who missed 10 straight cuts in 2015.
The Australians in the field this week are headed by Minjee Lee who plays in her third Evian Championship after finishing 16th and 11th in her previous two outings. The young West Australian has had a fantastic 2016 season so far and comes into this event in good form, finishing runner-up in her last start at the Manulife Classic in Canada and could easily be challenging for her first major title come Sunday.
Karrie Webb won this event in 2006 and has several other good finishes to her credit at Evian including a second place in 2014. Webb missed the cut in her last event in Canada but prior to that she registered 5th place finishes at both the Canadian and British Opens and is starting to hole some putts after a frustrating season in 2016.
A win here would be a sweet moment for the seven-time major winner, Webb is the only player this week who has the opportunity to secure a sixth different major championship, having won the other four on the current schedule, as well as the Du Maurier Classic.
The 41-year-old legend of Australian golf also has the opportunity to take her career earnings on the LPGA Tour to more than US$20million this week, needing just over US$7000 in prizemoney to reach this milestone. The only other player in LPGA history to have achieved this is the great Annika Sorenstam.
Of the other Australians in the field, Su Oh and Sarah Jane Smith have both had solid seasons in 2016 and should find the course to their liking.
Other players to watch this week are young Canadian star and 2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Champion Brooke Henderson, and American star Lexi Thompson, who has finished 3rd, 10th and 2nd in her last three Evian appearances.
Live coverage begins on Fox Sports Channel 505 Thursday evening at 7pm AEST
Live scoring can be found on the Evian Championship website http://www.evianchampionship.com/en/
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