Players to follow at Evian

The best female golfers in the world will play this Thursday at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France for the Amundi Evian Championship, the fourth of five major tournaments on the LPGA Tour in 2022.

The big winners of the year are: Jennifer Kupcho (Chevron Championship), Minjee Lee (US Women’s Open) and In Gee Chun (KMPG Women’s PGA Championship). The major final, the AIG Women’s Open, will take place in early August.

At last year’s Evian Championship, Minjee Lee beat Jeongeun Lee6 on the first hole of the playoffs to win his first major. Minjee Lee shot a 64 in the final round, rallying seven shots back to claim the title.

Here’s who to watch this week:

Korda, the former No. 1 and 2021 Olympic champion, had a year she would surely like to forget.

In January, she caught Covid-19, which kept her on the sidelines for quite some time in the offseason.

Then, in March, she underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from her left arm. Korda did not return to the LPGA Tour until the US Women’s Open in early June, where she finished tied for eighth. A few months ago, she wasn’t sure she would be back in time for this tournament.

Two weeks later, 23-year-old Korda lost in the playoffs to Kupcho at the Meijer LPGA Classic. In each of her first three rounds, Korda shot five under or less, but went cold in the final round, shooting an even par 72. She then finished tied for 30th at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in late June. . She is ranked #3.

With two majors to go, Korda, whose older sister Jessica also plays on the LPGA Tour, still has a chance to make this year memorable in a different way.

Lee, ranked No. 2, seems to be a factor in just about every major these days.

This was again the case at KPMG last month, where she had the chance to win her third major title in less than a year.

Led by six strokes before the final round, it put pressure on the leaders. Lee, however, missed a 4-of-17 pivot, leaving with a bogey. She bounced back with a birdie at 18, but finished tied with Lexi Thompson, one shot behind In Gee Chun.

Lee, 26, who made her professional debut at the Evian Championship in 2014 – she finished tied for 16th at that event – grew up in Perth, Australia. She started playing when she was 10 years old, and in 2012 she won the United States Junior Girls Championship. Just two years later, she had risen to the rank of world No. 1 amateur.

That’s right: Ko had a disappointing performance recently at KPMG, where she recorded rounds of 76 and 79 over the weekend to finish tied for 46th. But beyond that, Ko, a former No.1, has played extremely well this season.

Prior to the KMPG, the New Zealander had finished fifth or better in four of her last five appearances. In 12 starts, KPMG was the only event in which she ended up placing below 25th place.

Ko, who won the Gainbridge LPGA at the end of January – ahead of Danielle Kang by a stroke – is still only 25 years old. It seems hard to imagine, given how long she’s been there. Ko was the tour’s rookie of the year in 2014 and player of the year in 2015, the youngest ever in both cases. This 2015 season was crowned by a victory in the Evian Championship, his first major title.

Like many top players, she had her struggles. After compiling 15 career wins through 2018, Ko did not win again until the 2021 Lotte Championship. During this dry spell, she fell to #55 in the world rankings; it has now climbed to No. 4.

For Thitikul, a rookie this year, the future could come sooner than she thinks. He may even be there already.

At only 19 years old, the Thai Thitikul is now ranked No. 5 in the world. At KPMG, she finished fourth, just two strokes behind Chun. Earlier this year, Thitikul scored his first victory on the circuit at the JTBC Classic. It probably didn’t go the way she imagined – she bogeyed on the second hole of the playoffs to defeat Nanna Koerstz Madsen – but a win is a win. With the victory, Thitikul became the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour since Brooke Henderson in 2016.

“It’s just crazy in my mind right now,” Thitikul said afterwards. “I can’t believe I became an LPGA winner.”

In 2017, when she won the European Women’s Championship from Thailand, Thitikul became the youngest to win the European Women’s Tour. She was 14 years, four months and 19 days old at the time.

In June, Kupcho prevailed in a three-way elimination with Nelly Korda and Leona Maguire in the Meijer LPGA Classic.

Kupcho, ranked No. 9, nearly ruined everything that day, missing a short eagle putt on the first playoff hole that would have ended the competition on the spot. Some players might have been pissed off after a failure like that. Not Kupcho. On the second hole of the playoffs, she birdied another, then took the win when Maguire missed a short putt that would have extended the game.

Kupcho, who teamed with Lizette Salas to win the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational last week, earned her first career victory in April at the Chevron Championship. She struggled on the back nine, but started the day with a six-shot advantage.

Over the next two months, she clearly didn’t perform at her best, failing to break into the top 15 in one of his six events.

Kupcho had a stellar career as an amateur, winning both the 2018 NCAA Player of the Year award and the first Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019. She turned pro later that year, and in 2021 joined the United States players as they faced Europeans in the Solheim Cup.