In Gee Chun made history on Sunday en route to claiming her second major championship title in a wire-to-wire victory at The Evian Championship. The LPGA Tour rookie set a new major championship scoring record – male or female – with a four-day total of 21-under par and rounds of 63-65-65-69. She finished four shots clear of compatriots So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park who were tied for second at 17-under par.
Jason Day (2015 PGA Championship) and Henrik Stenson (2016 Open Championship) hold the men’s major record of 20-under par while five different players held the previous LPGA Tour record of 19-under par.
“I know 19-under par is tied record before the final round,” said Chun. “It was more pressure for me, but I tried to think about it as a really good experience. I tried to more enjoy it.”
She also joins fellow South Korean Se Ri Pak as the only two players on the LPGA Tour to win their first two titles at major championships. Asked what playing her way into the record books meant to her, Chun said she hadn’t come to realize the reality yet.
“I don’t know because I feel like I’m dreaming now,” said Chun.
Chun started the day with a four shot lead and was part of the field who played through harsh conditions early in the round. The 22-year old said that the challenge of soaking playing surfaces was actually a welcomed obstacle.
“A lot of rain this morning, so on No. 2 and No. 3, some guys helped our play,” said Chun. “It was not good, but I really enjoyed this time because I’m the first time playing in many water on the green. It was really fun.”
Chun picked up birdies on the second and eighth holes to take a commanding six-shot lead. She would par the next five holes and picked up her lone bogey of the day and the first on the back nine all week on the par 3, 14th. It dropped her to 20-under par and cut the lead to four shots while So Yeon Ryu birdied the 15th hole one group ahead.
Chun’s playing partner Sung Hyun Park eagled the 15th to get within three shots but Chun answered with a birdie putt to extend her lead back to four. Ryu birdied the 17th hole to get to 17-under par and into a tie for second with Park.
Chun said she was nervous the entire round and said that her caddie, David Jones, made sure to tell her to enjoy the walk up 18 with a four shot lead.
“I was so nervous after the third shot,” said Chun. “My caddie told me, ‘In Gee, try and enjoy your walking, and then he said, you can try to make a par. If you make the par, I buy the dinner.’”
After sinking an eight-foot par putt to seal the deal, she raised both hands over her head with an emotional celebration. The popular rookie had a group of fellow LPGA players, including Lydia Ko and Brooke Henderson, soak her with an Evian water and champagne shower.
“It was always an honor for me because everybody helped me and everybody helped other players,” said Chun. “We play and feel comfortable on the course and everything, so thanks so much.”
ETCHED IN HISTORY
In Gee Chun etched her name in the record books with her efforts this week in France and in a major way.
She broke the record for low score in relation to par in a major championship - male or female. Jason Day (2015 PGA Championship) and Henrik Stenson (2016 Open Championship) hold the men’s major record of 20-under par.
Most Under Par, 72-Holes
|-19||Dottie Pepper||1999 Kraft Nabisco Championship|
|-19||Karen Stupples||2004 Women's British Open|
|-19||Cristie Kerr||2010 LPGA Championship|
|-19||Yani Tseng||2011 Wegmans LPGA Championship|
|-19||Inbee Park||2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship|
|-18||Jiyai Shin||2008 RICOH Women's British Open|
Lowest Score, 72-Holes
|263||In Gee Chun||2016 Evian Championship|
|267||Betsy King||1992 LPGA Championship|
|268||Lydia Ko||2015 Evian Championship|
LYDIA KO WINS THE ROLEX ANNIKA MAJOR AWARD
Lydia Ko won the 2016 Rolex ANNIKA Major Award thanks to a win at the ANA Inspiration, a runner-up showing at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and a tie for third at the U.S. Women’s Open.
“It means a lot,” Ko said. “Especially because coming into this year my goal was to be more consistent in majors, and this exactly is the award for that, and obviously you need a win to have that, and just to have it named after Annika and how successful she’s been in majors and just in general and what she’s done for the game, I think there might not be some of us if it wasn’t for a player like her.”
The Rolex ANNIKA Major Award recognizes the player who, during a current LPGA Tour season, has the most outstanding record in all five major championships. Points are awarded at all five major championships to competitors who finish among the top-10 and ties. To take home the award, a player must also win at least one of the five majors.
“I think it’s very significant, and for her to be here and for her to be able to present the trophy to me I think makes it even more special. It’s something that I could have only really dreamt of and imagined of, and for it to be true in a few moments I think is going to be awesome, and especially for me to stand alongside a legend like Annika."
Ko, who joins Michelle Wie (2014) and Inbee Park (2015) as winners of the award, was recognized in a ceremony on the 18th green at the Evian Championship, wrapping up an exciting season of majors in 2016.
“He can pick any expensive one. Any good ideas you have? We’ll try any good restaurant tonight.” -In Gee Chun on her caddie, David Jones, buying her dinner tonight after paring the 18th hole
“I think she was a really, really great player even when she played on the KLPGA Tour. She won a lot of tournaments in Japan, as well. She’s a rookie right now, but she’s not really like a rookie. She’s a rookie but not rookie.” -So Yeon Ryu on In Gee Chun