Tour takes a breather before final major

Austin Ernst
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Austin Ernst is doused with water after defeating I.K. Kim in a one hole playoff to win the LPGA Portland Classic at the Columbia Edgewater Country Club in Portland, Oregon.

September 1 2014, Neal Reid

August was a whirlwind of activity and headlines for the LPGA Tour, with four tournaments filling the docket and keeping players on the go.

Players earned more than $7 million during the four-week stretch that ended Sunday with Austin Ernst becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner at the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions. Ernst defeated I.K. Kim on the first sudden-death playoff hole with a par and took home a cool $195,000 in the process.

Not only did Ernst earn her first LPGA victory, but she ended a three-event winning streak for South Korean-born players that Kim was attempting to extend. The former LSU Tiger and 2011 NCAA individual champion was undoubtedly inspired by her college football team’s come-from-behind win against Wisconsin on Saturday night when she used a 5-under 67 to charge into a tie for the lead on Sunday.

South Korea had seven of the tournament’s top 15 finishers, so they are once again elevating the play on Tour in a big way.

The LPGA will take a breather this week as players regroup and recharge while preparing for the fifth and final major of the 2014 season. Next week, the Tour moves on to Evian-les-Bains, France, for The Evian Championship, a $3.25 million contest that will be held at Evian Masters Golf Club Sept. 11-14.

The Evian Championship marks a milestone in the season, as Tour players have just 10 more tournaments in which to excel before the 2014 campaign comes to an end. Suzann Pettersen, who was the defending champion at last week’s tournament, won in Evian last year, the first time the event was an official LPGA major.

The following week, the LPGA heads to Prattville, Ala., for the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic, an event that returns to the schedule after a one-year hiatus. The Alabama tilt will be the Tour’s final full-field domestic event of the season and the last tournament in the United States until the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, Nov. 20-23, in Naples, Fla.

Between the Alabama and Florida tournaments, LPGA players will embark on a six-event tour of Asia, followed by a stop in Mexico at Lorena Ochoa’s event. Tour stars will be able to have their passports stamped in China, Malaysia, South Korea, China again, Taiwan and Japan before saying “Hola” in Mexico.

It should be quite the trek for players as they battle for position with eyes on the season-ending awards that loom on the horizon. Evian will be a great test for the LPGA’s best, and the chance to become a major champion no doubt will motivate everyone who tees it up in the four-day extravaganza.

This week is the calm before the storm and is one of just two remaining off weeks where players can catch their breath and plan out the rest of their season. The 2014 slate will be complete before we know it, and it should be one heck of a dash to the finish line.

For now, at least, the Tour pauses and eyes what lies ahead.

Topics: Tournament Preview

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