South Korea’s Chun In Gee made history by setting a new all-time Major record at 21-under-par 263 for 72 holes in the fourth edition of the Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club.
With a two-under 69 on Sunday, Chun bettered the all-time scoring record of 20-under-par set by Jason Day at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, which was matched by Henrik Stenson in The Open Championship at Royal Troon this year.
With a four stroke victory over fellow South Koreans Ryu So Yeon (66) and Park Sun Hyun (69), Chun earned her second Major title following the 2015 US Women’s Open. She had previously earned nine wins of the Korean LPGA and two more on the LPGA of Japan tour.
The 22-year-old from Seoul said: “I just cannot believe I won the Evian Championship. I made 21-under-par. I’m not dreaming, right? I had a really great time this week. Most people say golf is an individual sport, but I believe it is a team sport. My manager, my caddie, my coach and I as a team, prepared for this game and played this game. I love my team.”
With rounds of 63, 66, 65 and 69, Chun went wire to wire to earn the trophy along with a first prize of US$487,500.
Starting the final round in heavy rain, Chun began four strokes clear of Park and stretched that to six shots after birdies on the par-4 third and par-3 eighth holes. After turning in 33 with a five stroke cushion, she made four straight pars and bogeyed the short 14th before recovering with a tap-in birdie on the long 15th.
Three pars to finish were enough to establish a new record, but it wasn’t easy. Chun hit her tee shot left off the 18th tee into thick rough and after taking out a wood, her caddie David Jones persuaded her to lay up with a wedge to avoid the water. She hit her third shot from 95 yards to around 10 feet from the hole and rolled it in for par, before raising her hands into the air.
Chun became the fifth South Korean winner from the first 12 tournaments on the 2016 Ladies European Tour schedule, joining Jiyai Shin (RACV Ladies Masters), Jung Min Lee (World Ladies Championship), Inbee Park (Olympic golf competition) and In-Kyung Kim (ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters) and the eighth winner from the continent of Asia overall.
China’s Olympic bronze medallist Feng Shanshan finished fourth, with South Korean Kim Sei Young in fifth and the previous week’s ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters champion Kim In-Kyung in sixth. Angela Stanford of the United States finished eighth, a stroke ahead of and Nomura Haru from Japan.
The recent Ricoh Women’s British Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn tied for ninth, enabling the 2015 Evian Championship winner Lydia Ko to claim the Rolex Annika Major Award as the most consistent performer across the five women’s majors in 2016. Ko signed off with a 73 to share 43rd position.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England was the top ranked European player in a tie for 12th position on five-under with last year’s Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark tied for 14th, which was her best finish in a Major.
Pedersen said: “Today was really good. My ball striking wasn’t good, driving was better today but it was really tough the first 13 holes because it was pouring down. I’m really happy with the way I handled myself and the way I finished.”
It was Pedersen’s third straight appearance in The Evian Championship and she has improved steadily each year since first playing as an amateur in 2014. Meanwhile, this was Chun’s second appearance after she missed the cut in 2015 and she became the second South Korean player to win the event as a major championship following Kim Hyo Joo in 2014.