The final major championship of the golfing calendar begins on Thursday with the Evian Championship, which finds two of the brightest stars in the women's game at the head of the list of contenders.
Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who is the top-ranked player in the world, returns to the Evian Resort Golf Club near Paris, where she captured her first major championship a year ago. When she returned for a practice round this past Sunday, a host of memories came to light.
“When I first played the 18th hole on Sunday, this past Sunday, a lot of memories (came back),” Ko said. “Walking down the 18th on that last day, it was so much more than I could have ever imagined it. To know that I had a lead coming down the last hole so that I could have a little bit of a breathing room. I think was great. It just brought a lot of great memories.”
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Ko's own recollections of that memorable Sunday afternoon remain vivid.
“To remember all the seats by the green to be all full of people, for people to cheer our final group on, and the double whammy tears and the New Zealand flag, there's so many great things about this event,” she said. “… but it's just really hard to choose one best one because every moment really stood out to me.”
Ko and Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand rank one and two, respectively, in the world rankings as well as the battle for the Rolex Player of the Year Award. Jutanugarn, who has a tour-leading five victories this season, is once again planning to leave her drive out of her bag.
“I tried to hit driver on Monday,” she said, “but I'm not really (feeling) comfortable because this course is really narrow and it's not that long to me to hit driver, so no driver this week.”
Several other players are chasing historical milestones this week. Yani Tseng (Taiwan) and Laura Davies (England) each can complete a career grand slam with a victory here. In addition, Karrie Webb (Australia) is trying to win her sixth different major championship.
The field also includes Brooke Henderson (Canada), In Gee Chun (South Korea), Carolta Ciganda (Spain), Suzann Pettersen (Norway), Charley Hull (England), Anna Nordqvist (Sweeden) and Stacy Lewis (United States).
The golf course will play to 6,470 yards with a par of 71.