Defending champion, Anna Nordqvist, will return to Evian-les-Bains in Savoie, France, for sixth edition of The Evian Championship on September 13-16.
The Evian Championship is an outgrowth of the Evian Masters, which was launched on the Ladies European Tour in 1994 as one of the most prestigious tournaments on the continent. Sporting excellence remains paramount as the Evian Resort hosts its 25th consecutive tournament as can be seen through the quality of the world class field of 120 competitors along with a purse increased to $3,850,000.
The brainchild of Antoine and Franck Riboud, who had dreamed of providing a showcase for women champions, the tournament has continued to develop each year, with ever increasing purses. An important milestone was reached in 2013, when the event earned global Major status, but the values of tradition and innovation are ever-present in its DNA, along with a proud history of rising stars and golf legends.
Helen Alfredsson, the LET Player President, won the first championship in 1994 and remains the only golfer to have won the tournament three times, triumphing again in 1998 and in 2008.
The tournament ambassador played a key role in its growth story and, after winning the event for the third time, she explained: “I can’t even describe it in words. This tournament is so special for me. Being here in ’94, and sort of helping it get along, it was a new tournament and we didn’t know where it was going to go. We were trying to bring players, to invite some American players. Look where it’s been. It’s an amazing golf tournament.”
After winning the event for the second time at the height of her powers in 2003, the former world number one Annika Sörenstam said: “I love this event. It is like the women’s Masters. This is a first-class event with a first-class field and I couldn’t have felt any better.”
The world’s leading tours agreed and, after 18 years of incredible performances from champions such as Alfredsson, Sörenstam, Laura Davies, Karrie Webb, Paula Creamer, Ai Miyazato and Inbee Park, it was time to start a new chapter – with a new name.
It was perhaps fitting that, in September 2013, shortly after Europe’s first success on American soil in The Solheim Cup, European Suzann Pettersen became the first winner of The Evian Championship, which was now officially the fifth Major. With a final round-score of 68, three-under-par, on the newly constructed course, the Norwegian star finished with an overall score of 274, 10-under-par, to end two strokes clear of Lydia Ko, with Lexi Thompson in third.
In 2014, the world’s best players returned to the Evian Resort Golf Course for a fresh contest. The week began with a magnificent all-time Major record of 61 (10-under) by a relatively unknown 19-year-old Korean, Hyo Joo Kim, who dug deep for the next three rounds to deny Karrie Webb and claim her first Major.
In 2015, another young player came to the fore. Lydia Ko, who had come so close in previous years, had already set several records in her career, but she seemingly came from nowhere on the last day to become the youngest winner of a women’s Major aged 18 years, four months and 20 days. She fired a final round of eight-under-par to finish six strokes clear of Lexi Thompson.
The young Kiwi said: “Winning a major at any age is already amazing. Being the youngest though is really cool! I can’t really believe that I’ve left my name in the history books quite yet. Shooting an 8-under on any day is a very good round, but on the final day of a Grand Slam, playing like that is a dream come true.”
The next year, 2016, produced another fairytale. In Gee Chun led from start to finish to capture her second Major title, following the US Women’s Open in 2015. Chun made history by setting a new all-time Major record at 21-under-par 263 for 72 holes. In the year of golf’s return to the Olympic Games, where former Evian Masters winner Inbee Park would take the gold medal for South Korea, it was an all-Korean podium, featuring Chun, Sung Hyun Park and So Yeon Ryu.
“I feel like I’m dreaming. I knew that the record for the lowest score in relation to par was 19-under. That put a little extra pressure on me this Sunday. But I need that pressure, otherwise I get bored on the course. New goals for the future? Give me a bit of time. For the moment, I’m simply really happy!” said the young Korean.
In 2017, a blazing final round of 66 from Anna Nordqvist produced a second win for the Nordics. The Swede closed a five-stroke gap to force a play-off with American Brittany Altomare and Nordqvist claimed the first play-off hole in the pouring rain to become the second European to win golf’s newest Major.
The sixth year of The Evian in 2018 is expected to be the best yet. There is a new order in women’s world golf who have never won at Evian, such as World No.1 Sung Hyun Park, So Yeon Ryu, Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanugarn, looking to prove their dominance, not to mention the rising stars such recent Major champions Pernilla Lindberg and Georgia Hall.
The Evian is known as one of the best events in golf and the beautiful course is set against the magnificent backdrop of Lac Leman. Combined with first-class hospitality, luxurious accommodation, delicious French food and a charming town in which to stay, it’s a recipe which means that all the best golfers ensure they bring their friends and family to experience it.
Other 2018 highlights include the rise in importance of the European Qualifiers such as the Jabra Ladies Open, the first e-Evian Championship on the Golfzon simulator’s global network, the arrival of the David Leadbetter golf instruction method all year round at the Academy, the growth of the innovation “lab” for sports startups held during the week of the tournament, even more experiences for spectators to choose from and the presence of Thomas Björn, captain of the European Ryder Cup team, a few days before the big confrontation at Le Golf National in Paris.