Amundi Evian Championship: Preview

The penultimate women’s major of the year is set to tee off at Evian Resort Golf Club in France, with Brooke Henderson the defending champion.

The first three majors this season have all been won by first-time major champions, Lilia Vu at the Chevron Championship, Ruoning Yin at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, and Allisen Corpuz at the U.S. Women’s Open.

All three are in the field for this week’s Amundi Evian Championship, the 29th edition, which will be held from 27 to 30 July. In fact the world-class field features 19 of the world’s top 20 players, with only Lexi Thompson from that group not playing.

The 132-player field represents over 30 countries and includes the top five players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, led by World No. 1 Jin Young Ko, World No. 2 Nelly Korda, World No. 3 Lydia Ko, and 15 of the LPGA Tour’s 15 winners so far in 2023.

The fifth and final major of women’s golf, the AIG Women’s Open, will take place August 10-13 at Walton Heath Old Course in Surrey, England.

Brooke back to defend 

Canada’s Brooke Henderson returns as defending champion after last year’s victory by one shot – a birdie at the last – over American Sophia Schubert at Evian Resort Golf Club. 

It was her second major title and she followed it up in January with her 13th LPGA Tour win at the first event of the 2023 season, the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Florida

Though she has since had a poor spell of form with no top ten finishes since that January win, she’s a player for the big stage and will be determined to defend her title.

She will face a tough challenge from European and American players who have the added incentive of enhancing their hopes of qualifying for their respective Solheim Cup teams, ahead of the exciting team event which will be played September 22-24 at Finca Cortesin in Spain.

Favourites to win

World No. 1 Jin Young Ko will be looking for her third win of the season and her third major title. Ko won this event in 2019 but missed the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open. No. 2 Nelly Korda has been in up and down form but comes into this event buoyed by her recent win at the Aramco Team Series London tournament.

Currently third in the rankings, former World No.1 Lydia Ko has recently not been at her best, but she has history at this event having won it in 2015. Other top 10 players competing this week to keep an eye on include Hyo-Joo Kim, Atthaya Thitikul and Xiyu Lin, as well as 2021 champion Minjee Lee, and this year’s other major winners. For an outside bet, look out for 20-year-old sensation Rose Zhang from America, who won her first LPGA Tour title at the Mizuho Americas Open in June – on her professional debut.

The tournament is played in stroke play over four rounds. After the first two rounds, the 70 top players and ties make the cut.

Huge prize money

The purse for the Amundi Evian Championship – co-sanctioned by the U.S. and European tours (LPGA and LET) – is $6.5m, the same as in 2022. However, it’s a huge rise from 2021 when it offered $2m less. 

In 2023, the winner will take home $975,000, the same as last year, while the runner-up will receive $604,812, third place $438,750, 10th $134,108, and 70th and last place following the cut, $13,247.

There has been a recent huge rise in prize money across the board in women’s golf. The 2023 LPGA season was record-breaking, with a total prize fund of $101.4 million, with 21 tournaments carrying purses of at least $2 million.

The three majors prior to this week’s event each featured record prize money. The Chevron Championship offered $5.1m; the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship $10m; and the U.S. Women’s Open, played for the first time at Pebble Beach, a massive $12m.

The season-ending CME Group Tour Championship will take place in November and will have a $7 million purse, with $2 million for the winner – the largest single prize in the history of women’s golf.

Evian Resort Golf Club

The Champions Course, which hosts the event, is just two minutes away by shuttle from the Evian Resort, home to luxurious hotels, Michelin-starred food, and the famous Evian thermal spa. The resort is in the spa town of Evian-les-Bains which sits on the border between France and Switzerland, at the foot of the Alps on the shores of Lake Geneva.

The 6,693-yard, par-72 course has stunning natural surroundings with unrivalled viewpoints of Lake Geneva and the Alps, making it one of the most beautiful courses in Europe. It’s a strategic course where its imperative to keep the ball on the fairway and away from the thick rough and over 70 pot bunkers. The greens play fast and some of the putts can be very testing.

It’s a technical, hilly and wooded parkland course revamped by Dave Sampson of European Golf Design ahead of the first time the event was played here in 2013. It’s been played here every year since, apart from 2020 when it was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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