Swede Helen Alfredsson is the only player to have won three times at the Evian Resort. For the championship’s 25th anniversary and seventh time as a major championship this week, we asked her to look back at some of the milestone dates in the tournament’s history.
What are your memories of the first Evian Masters in 1994?
It was so beautiful and we just loved the atmosphere. When we came here, although the golf course wasn’t perfect, everyone had such good intentions and it was so different to the States. We had a champagne tent and a lot of fun, while the intensity on the golf course was still the same. Franck’s dad, Antoine, was there and we had great parties and music with everyone so together. As much as this tournament has changed and become more grandiose, the heart and the soul and the willingness to make everybody happy is still the same.
What are your memories of your second victory in 1998?
It was very funny because I came in from Rochester and missed a flight, so I came in on Tuesday night. We had to play on Wednesday. I loved the place so I got straight into the groove and had a good last round. Every time I came to Evian something happened. It’s like the Solheim: something happens with your game and you enter certain places and find something that you haven’t seen in the whole year.
How special was it to win again 10 years later, in 2008?
I think that was probably one of my most special tournaments that I have ever won. I was injured in 2007 and had been the Solheim Cup captain. I didn’t really know what I was going to do and if this was it. I had missed the first six cuts out of seven tournaments and two caddies had left me. I finished second in the Open and then came over here. With my family being here, Jacques and Franck, who have been a part of this event from the beginning, the whole thing came together. It was very special and a gift from above.
You were named Evian Resort ambassador in 2014… what is your role?
This will always be a big part of my life. If you look at the tournament against my career, there are lots of parallels. Coming out in 1994 as a rookie, you want to improve, then you get to become a major and reach the pinnacle in golf, that is a perfect trajectory for an athlete too: to keep improving. I didn’t want to keep this tournament to myself so we started to invite some American players, my friends, to come over and they loved it. We keep moving forward.
Do you think this is the best event in the world?
It has everything, including extreme beauty, and you always look forward to coming here. Now it’s a major it’s all business and a little bit different, as we were hitting the champagne tent a little more often in the early days. Some of the current players weren’t born back then and don’t understand the history. For me, it’s one of the best ones, absolutely.
Whom would you like to see win this week?
I would love to see somebody from the European side win.
Whom will be the four picks for the European Solheim Cup Team?
I’ve been put to work this week to check them out and I have five names that I’m going to see, so it’s not easy. I’m reporting to the captain (Catriona Matthew). Beany keeps adding things for me to do so my hands are full. It’s so different to be under pressure and you’ve got to be able to stand up to pressure. For me, I would pick someone like Beany every day. She was just down to business at all times. I think Georgia Hall would be another one. Matchplay is so different. Even when I talk to my husband, Kent (Nilsson), about ice hockey teams, I just want somebody who is that strong.
Do you think that we will ever see parity of pay in the men’s and women’s majors?
I think that somebody needs to start. It is so much about perception. The girls are good enough and great players. If you look at the US Opens, they have a long way to go. At least somebody is putting it up. I think that the organisers here wanted to make a statement and French golf has grown a lot so they are making a difference to level it out a little bit. I’m so proud of them. They have not just taken it to a major but are really trying to put the money where it should be.