LPGA Media/Golf Channel – Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
September 15, 2013, Evian-les-Bains, France (ISN) – Suzann Pettersen has always had a special place in her heart for the tournament in Evian-Les-Baines, France and now she has etched her name into the history books here as well.
The 32-year-old Norwegian became the first-ever winner of the LPGA’s fifth major, The Evian Championship, as she captured her second career major title and her 13th career LPGA victory in convincing fashion on Sunday.
Pettersen shot a final-round, 3-under 68 on Sunday at the newly redesigned Evian Resort Golf Club to finish at 10-under-par and complete a two-shot victory over 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko.
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
“This is a dream come true,” Pettersen said. “This was by far on my bucket list to win the Evian Championship now that it’s become a major. But also, they have been such a great supporter of this. This is my 12th or 13th time I’m here. This was good timing to win this tournament.”
Pettersen’s only other major championship win came at the 2007 LPGA Championship. She’s had a number of close finishes in majors since that victory, including two runner-up finishes at the Kraft Nabisco Championship (2008, 2010), one at the U.S. Women’s Open (2010) and one at the Wegmans LPGA Championship last year.
But now she finally has that second major title.
“I don’t know if it’s actually sunk in that I’ve actually won another major,” Pettersen said. “All you’re trying to do is go out there and win tournaments. Today I thought we were going to fight the weather more than we did. It was almost like a walk in the park just staying dry.”
With rain predicted for most of the day on Sunday, there was some doubt as to whether the final 18 holes of the Evian Championship would be able to be completed on Sunday or if the tournament would have to continue on Monday when more rain was in the forecast.
But thanks to some forward thinking of tournament officials to put tarps on all of the greens at the Evian Resort Golf Club after play on Saturday, overnight rain showers only forced a 90-minute delay for the start of the final round. Once play officially got underway at 10:30 a.m. local time on Sunday morning, things went smoothly weather wise and even a few scattered showers didn’t prevent the inaugural champion from being crowned.
The leaders teed off around 12:30 p.m. and Pettersen got off to a hot start with back-to-back birdies on No. 2 and 3 to take a one-shot lead over Ko, who went birdie-bogey-birdie to begin her round. A bogey by Pettersen on the 7th made it a tie atop the leaderboard between her and the young phenom but she followed with a birdie on the 8th and never relinquished her lead after that – although Ko stuck in there until the end.
Pettersen had a two-shot lead heading into the difficult par-4 18th hole. After Ko hit a 3-wood out of the rough to just over the green directly behind the flagstick, Pettersen chose not to lay up on her final hole. She hit a hybrid to the middle of the green and completed the two-putt for the victory, which was her fourth internationally this year.
“I was so chicken to lay up,” Pettersen said. “Brian [Dilley, her caddie] said, If Lydia lays up, we lay up. I’m like, Okay. She has a wood in her hand. She’s going to go for it. For me, it was almost the perfect shot. I could just hit my stop shot and just hit a little fade with my hybrid. It’s definitely become a very tough hole. This is what they want, for us to question what we’re going to do.”
Ko was attempting to become the youngest major winner in LPGA Tour history. The 16-year-old already holds the top two spots on the list of youngest LPGA winners, having won the CN Canadian Women’s Open last year in Vancouver and then she defended her title in Edmonton last month. But while it wasn’t another win for Ko, she seemed pleased with her performance.
“I was pretty happy with my round today,” Ko said. “Like yesterday I gave myself a lot of the chances to make birdies, so I hit it much closer to the pins. I probably did half of that today. I don’t expect myself to make everything, but it was really good to know that I could come so close to the winner at a major. Second is my best finish at a major tournament.”
For Pettersen, the victory at the Evian Championship also marks the second straight event that she’s won on the LPGA Tour. Two weeks ago she won the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. She has now won three times on the LPGA Tour this season, having also won the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf back in April. But this past month has certainly been a special one for Pettersen, who won the Solheim Cup with Europe and tallied four top-3 finishes in her last five events.
“It’s been such a great month, five weeks for me, starting off with the Solheim,” Pettersen said. “I mean, the feelings during the Solheim never really gets old. We had a fantastic team. It was kind of a great kick start for what became probably the month of my career, I would probably say so.”