The fourth of five major championships on the LPGA Tour is back for 2021.
The Evian Championship was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but returns this week to Evian-Les-Baines, France. While some of the game’s top golfers have taken a pass to prepare for the Olympics, a stout field, including world No.1 Nelly Korda, has arrived in France in search for major-championship hardware.
Korda and the rest of this season’s LPGA major champions are first-time winners.
Patty Tavatanakit broke through at the ANA Inspiration; Yuka Saso won the U.S. Women’s Open (becoming the youngest U.S. Women’s Open champion in history); and less than a month ago Korda won her first major at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
With that win, Korda, who has two other LPGA victories this year, ascended to No.1 in the world. All eyes will be on her once again this week.
“It doesn't matter if it's a small event or if it's a major. I'm going to go into every week with the same mindset and the same preparation because at the end of the day you go into any type of event wanting to win,” said Korda.
Although Korda and her sister Jessica (who has won once this year) are participating in the Olympics, they’re in the field in France.
Fellow Americans Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang, plus Japan’s Nasa Hatakoa, England’s Mel Reid, and Australia’s Hannah Green, are skipping the Evian to either prep for the Olympics or avoid a complicated international trip.
“Each to their own when it comes to a schedule. I know a couple of top girls are missing this week just because it was a lot of travel, a lot of big events coming up,” Korda said. “At the end of the day I think they're just thinking about how their bodies are going to be and not tiring themselves out. But I would never miss a major.”
Korda said despite being on top of the world – this is her first major with the No. 1 ranking – she won’t change her approach this week.
“I don't think it changes my game. It's definitely cool. It's a cool feeling. I'm very proud of it,” Korda said. “But again, Jess kind of said it last week in an interview we did, she was like, ‘yeah, everyone is now coming after her.’ So in a sense, I'm like, ‘that's right.’ But it's a new week, and every week I go into a tournament with a new mindset. It doesn't matter the ranking.”
Jin Young Ko is the defending champion from 2019, having topped a trio of golfers including 2014 winner Hyo Joo Kim by two shots. It was Ko’s second major championship of that season and her third of four victories en route to winning Player of the Year.
Ko is back to defend her title, and she’s grouped with a pair of past winners for the first two rounds: Anna Nordqvist, who won a rain-shortened, 54-hole Evian Championship in 2017, and Angela Stanford, who broke through for her maiden major-championship title at the age of 40 in 2018.
Other recent Evian Championship winners returning to action this week include Kim, In Gee Chun, who won at 21-under in 2016 to set a new scoring record, and Lydia Ko.
Ko captured her first-career major at The Evian in 2015 and said she’s hoping to recreate some major magic this week.
“My final round here the year I won, in 2015, is probably some of the best golf that I’ve played,” Ko said. “Obviously we missed it last year, so definitely good to be back. It’s a place I’ve had a lot of good memories.”
Korda is trying to make her own memories this week and win her second major championship of the season. But she said she has just a simple goal for the balance of 2021: stay healthy.
“If I can pull that off, that would be great,” she said. “I have a couple big events coming up. We have this week, then we have Olympics, another major and Solheim (Cup). As I said, to stay healthy and just to stay consistent.”
So far in 2021 the thing most consistent with Korda has been success. She’s looking for more of that this week at The Evian Championship.