Mar 18, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Suzann Pettersen with her tee shot on the sixth hole during the final round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Allan Henry-USA TODAY Sports

Suzann Pettersen Joins The Evian Champions Circle

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Nine past Evian Champions entered the 2013 Evian.  They collectively brought 135 years of professional golf to this year’s playing field.  Suzann Pettersen (Norway) joined them today, after a hard-found final round on a rain-soaked course where she played a tense final round against her closest challenger, amateur Lydia Ko (New Zealand) that at time felt more like a match play event.

 

Pettersen played steadily throughout the Evian, establishing a pace in the first round that she sustained to the final hole.  It was a winning strategy.  Pettersen avoided the mistakes that sent Mika Miyazato (Japan), the early leader, down the board to an even par, 19th-place finish and that ended Ko’s bid for victory mid-way through the Sunday round.

Lydia Ko finished in a solo 2nd place with a final score of -8, not at all a bad finish for the teenager who’s ranked 8th by Rolex, hasn’t finished high school, and still plays as an amateur.  And directly behind Ko, Lexi Thomson (USA) went to the clubhouse in a solo 3rd place at 6 shots under par.  Thompson’s final round surge from 11th to 3rd was a titanic effort, but it was too little, too late for a victory.  Teenagers Ko and Thompson have future battles waiting for them.

A Fond Farewell

Flamboyant, glamorous, at times downright outrageous, Helen Alfredsson (Sweden) won The Evian Masters three times, 1994, 1998, and 2008.  Announcing her retirement from professional golf last week at the Helsingborg Open, she made her final appearance as a professional golfer at the 2013 Evian Championship.  Alfredsson, who’s 48 and has been playing pro golf since she made her debut on the LET Tour in 1989, carded 71 for the 1st round and 76 for the 2nd round, and missed the cut for the final round.    Her plans for the future?  She says she’s not big on planning.  She only decided to retire last week, but we’ll see Alfredsson in the golf world, just not as a competitor.

Veteran Champions

Laura Davies (England), Evian Masters champion in 1995 & 1996, carded 74 and 73 in her 1st and 2nd rounds at The Evian.  Davies, who will celebrate her 50th birthday next month, has been playing pro golf for the past 28 years.  She played in the Solheim Cup for Team Europe 12 times, has accumulated 44 victories in LET and LPGA events, and still brings a delightful, swashbuckling styles of golf to every event she plays.  Play on, Laura Davies!  We celebrate you!

Juli Inkster (USA) celebrated her 23rd wedding anniversary by winning the 2003 Evian.  This year Inkster, who began her pro golf career in 1983, went to the clubhouse after her final round on Sunday 3 shots over par.  Like Laura Davies, Juli Inkster has enjoyed a tremendously successful career in pro golf, 45 victories, 213 victories and more than $13 millions in career earnings.

It was an honour to become the first American to win the event and on my wedding anniversary too. I was able to soak up the atmosphere and it was a lot of fun. 

Juli Inkster, on winning the 2003 Evian Masters

Champions & Competitors

Paula Creamer (USA), the Pink Panther, became the youngest winner of The Evian Masters in 2005 when she was 15 years old.  She’s on the course again this year, finishing the tournament at even par.   She was looking at a top-10 finish until she ran into too many bogies in Sunday’s final round.  But Creamer’s still a youngster in the Champion’s Circle and we’ll see the 11th world ranked player again many times in LPGA events.

Natalie Gublis (USA), who started playing pro golf in 2002, won The Evian Masters in 2007, the first year that tournament organizers implemented a cut between the 2nd and 3rd rounds.  Gublis, who’s perpetually fun-loving, thoroughly enjoyed her championship event:

It was a whirlwind and the presentation was fantastic, with parachutists, an American flag, little silver things flying and all my friends there. It was crazy and wonderful. I’ll never forget it. 

Natalie Gulbis, on winning the 2007 Evian Masters

She finished the 2013 Evian Championship at 5 shots over par and well down on the leaderboard, but that finish didn’t tarnish Gublis’s effervescence and the sheer delight she showed the fans as she made her way through the tournament.

World ranked #6 player and the undisputed leader of women’s golf in Australia, Karrie Webb won The Evian Masters in  2006, holding off challenges from a teenaged Michelle Wie and veteran Laura Davies to take the 2006 title.  The 17-year pro golf veteran finished the 2013 Evian 1 shot under par, alongside fellow Aussie Katherine Hull-Kirk and another past champion, Ai Miyazato (Japan), with a share of the 15th slot on the board.

Two-time Evian Master’s champion Ai Miyazato (Japan) had been playing pro golf for only three years when she won the 2009 Evian Masters in a dramatic playoff against Sophie Gustafson (Sweden), and then again in 2011, the year it was announced that The Evian would become the 5th LPGA Major in 2013.

South Koreans Jiyal Shin (2010 and Inbee Park (2012) complete the Evian Winners’ Circle.  Shin won The Evian Masters in 2010, the year after she turned pro, edging out Americans Morgan Pressel and Lexi Thompson and widening the geographic spread on the Winner’s Circle.  Inbee Park followed in 2012, edging out American Stacy Lewis and former champions Karrie Webb, Natalie Gublis, and Paula Creamer with a record-breaking 17 shots under par to claim a victory that set off a year-long, record-breaking career surge that came to an end at the 2013 Evian Championship with a +8 finish.

Today Suzann Pettersen joined an elite circle of world-class women athletes! Welcome!

 

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