NORDQVIST SET TO DEFEND
Anna Nordqvist will begin her Evian Championship title defense on Thursday morning at 8:25 a.m. In 2017, Nordqvist entered the final round five strokes off the lead and shot a 5-under par 66 to force a sudden death playoff against American Brittany Altomare, the first playoff in the major championship’s history. Nordqvist’s bogey on the first playoff hole proved enough to give Sweden it’s first Evian champion, and add a second major title to Nordqvist’s name alongside the 2009 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Tuesday at the Evian Championship Welcome Ceremony, Nordqvist followed the tradition of past winners by giving her champion’s trophy back to Evian Championship President Franck Riboud and Evian Championship Vice President Jacques Bungert.
“It's been really cool," Nordqvist said of returning as the defending champion. "I’ve been walking around with a smile on my face this week. It was bittersweet to give the trophy back to Jacques and Franck yesterday, but hopefully I'm going to work really hard to maybe one day get the trophy back.”
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DEFENDING CHAMPION ANNA NORDQVIST
Nordqvist came from five strokes behind in the final round to capture her eighth career LPGA victory and her second major championship at the 2017 Evian Championship
Nordqvist’s five-stroke comeback in the final round was the largest in the tournament’s history
Nordqvist joined Suzann Pettersen as the only European winners of The Evian Championship and became the first player from Sweden to win the title
In 2018, Nordqvist has six top-10 finishes including a season-best T3 result at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic – she is still searching for her first win since last year’s Evian Championship
Nordqvist won the 2017 event for her second career major title, joining her win at the 2009 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
EVIAN SET FOR 25TH ANNIVERSARY IN 2019
In 2019, The Evian Championship will celebrate its 25th anniversary since the first playing of the professional tournament at Evian Resort Golf Club in 1994. Next year, the Championship will be held in the summer from July 25-28 and the purse will be raised to $4.1 million, reaffirming it as the second-largest purse on Tour.
Jacques Bungert, the Vice President of The Evian Championship, talked about his enthusiasm going into this week and looking forward to next year, saying, “For us, it's very exciting. You were talking about July. Even though we all know this the weather is not anticipated at any time, be it September or July. For us to have this condition is also great for the whole team to prepare the week. Next year will be very exciting week as well for our 25th anniversary.”
NO. 1 PARK FEELING PRESSURE TO PERFORM
Following her third victory of the LPGA season at the Indy Women in Tech Championship Driven by Group 1001, 2017 Rolex Co-Player of the Year Sung Hyun Park reclaimed the top spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. This week’s Evian Championship marks the fourth consecutive week Park has held the top spot, and the first time she will tee it up at a major championship with the No. 1 moniker. While Park has had past success at The Evian Championship, including a runner-up finish in 2016, she is still feeling the heat to perform as the top player in the world and to capture her third career major title.
“Of course I have been having a lot of pressure as No. 1,” Park said. “It's also more difficult to keep No. 1. And because of that, this tournament is very important, that I'm very well aware of that. Even though there are many pressure, whenever I see my caddie, they been wearing that Rolex caddie bib. That makes me more confident.”
JUTANUGARN SISTERS KEEP IT LIGHT DURING MAJOR WEEK
Every major champion has a key to success, and for two-time major champion Ariya Jutanugarn her recipe to success revolves around all things food. In a joint press conference with her sister Moriya on Wednesday at The Evian Championship, Ariya shared her plans for the week in France. “We go to town every night and sometimes we just like walk around the lake…We have ice cream every day, cake every day, and I love it.” Moriya teased her younger sister: “and she gain weight for sure.”
Rolex Rankings No. 2, Ariya admitted that to cope with on-course pressure she spends her time on the golf course planning the evening meals she and her sister will enjoy, especially in France.
“I'm really stressed on the course and I'm just always thinking about what I'm going to eat,” Ariya said. Moriya added, “I actually pretty much follow her. She has a plan. You know, after she left the golf course she has a plan for every day.”
At the 2017 Evian Championship, Moriya missed out on the playoff between champion Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Altomare by just one stroke, but her time in the winner’s circle came a few months later at the 2018 HUGEL-JTBC LA Open. This week Moriya is looking to add “major champion” to her list of accolades. Little sister Ariya, meanwhile, is a 10-time LPGA winner and two-time major champion including the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open and is looking to improve upon her career-best T9 finish (2016) at The Evian Championship.
ROLEX RANKINGS NO. 1 SCENARIOS
There are several scenarios for a change at the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings based on the results of the season’s final major, The Evian Championship. The projected scenarios are below:
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn
With a win Jutanugarn will return to No. 1 regardless of the finishes of any other player.
If Jutanugarn finishes second, she would need Sung Hyun Park to finish fourth or worse, and So Yeon Ryu and Inbee Park to not win.
If Jutanugarn finishes third, she would need Sung Hyun Park to finish seventh or worse, Inbee Park to finish fourth or worse and So Yeon Ryu to not win.
If Jutanugarn finishes fourth, she would need Sung Hyun Park to finish 13th or worse, Inbee Park to finish third or worse, and So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson to not win.
If Jutanugarn finishes fifth, she would need Sung Hyun Park to finish 22nd or worse, Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu to finish third or worse and Lexi Thompson to not win.
If Jutanugarn finishes sixth, she would need Sung Hyun Park to finish 49th or worse, Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu to finish third or worse and Lexi Thompson to not win.
If Jutanugarn finishes seventh, she would need Sung Hyun Park to finish 72nd or worse, Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu to finish third or worse and Lexi Thompson to not win.
Rolex Rankings No. 3 So Yeon Ryu
Ryu would move to No. 1 with a win and a third or worse place finish by Sung Hyun Park.
If Ryu finishes second, she would need Sung Hyun Park to finish 22nd or worse, Ariya Jutanugarn to finish fifth or worse, Inbee Park to finish third or worse and Lexi Thompson to not win.
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Inbee Park
With a win Park will return to No. 1 regardless of the finishes of any other player.
If Park finishes second, she would need Sung Hyun Park to finish sixth or worse, Ariya Jutanugarn to finish third or worse and So Yeon Ryu to not win.
Rolex Rankings No. 5 Lexi Thompson
To move to No. 1, Thompson must win and have Sung Hyun Park finish 13th or worse, Ariya Jutanugarn finish 4th or worse and Inbee Park finish third or worse.
JUTANUGARN, PARK COULD BE NEXT TO WIN ROLEX ANNIKA MAJOR AWARD
The final major of the LPGA Tour season this week, The Evian Championship, also marks the final attempt for players to earn points towards the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award.
The Rolex ANNIKA Major Award will recognize the player who, during a current LPGA Tour season, has the most outstanding record in all five major championships. Points will be 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.
2018 U.S. Open winner Ariya Jutanugarn and 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship winner Sung Hyun Park are among six players with a mathematical chance to win the award based on their finishes this week.
Jutanugarn said, “I pretty close like two years ago. I feel like actually it's pretty cool when you saw the award, you saw the history, like how many people won the award. This is a great role model. I'm not going to expect to win the award, but I'm going to try to do my best. Yeah, just do my best and have fun.”
Park said, “When So Yeon (Ryu) won last year I was really jealous. I always see on the TV when one of my role models, Annika (Sorenstam), giving an honor. Yeah, I'm very exciting to have a chance to win the award this year.”
The winner of the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award will be announced in a ceremony at The Evian Championship, wrapping up what promises to be an exciting season of majors in 2018.