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Odds and Ends

Evian preview: Korda chases second straight major title in France

by Lisa Antonucci
Updated On: July 20, 2021, 6:15 pm ET

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World No. 1 Nelly Korda will aim for her second major championship title and fourth victory of the season as the LPGA kicks off a four-event swing through Europe this week with the fourth of five major championships at the Amundi Evian Championship. After a one-year hiatus due to the worldwide pandemic, the women return to Evian-les-Bains, France, and the Evian Resort Golf Club for the second most lucrative tournament on tour, with a purse of $4.5 million up for grabs. 

Korda, the betting favorite coming into the week and listed at +900 by PointsBet Sportsbook, leads the 126-player field, which represents 27 different countries and includes the top five players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings including No. 2 Jin Young Ko, No. 3 Inbee Park and 15 of the LPGA’s 16 winners so far in 2021. However, several top players are skipping the event to prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, among them No. 6 Danielle Kang, reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion No. 8 Yuka Saso, recent winner No. 9 Nasa Hataoka (Marathon LPGA Classic) and No. 11 Lexi Thompson.


Odds to win 2021 Amundi Evian Championship (via PointsBet Sportsbook):

+900: Nelly Korda
+1000: Jin Young Ko
+1400: Hyo Joo Kim
+1500: Inbee Park, Sei Young Kim
+1800: Ariya Jutanugarn
+2000: Patty Tavatanakit
+2500: Lydia Ko 
+2800: So Yeon Ryu
+3000: Brooke Henderson, Matilda Castren
+3300: Jessica Korda, Atthaya Thitikul, Esther Henseleit


South Korea’s Ko (listed at +1000) will defend her 2019 title, which she won by two strokes over China’s Shanshan Feng, fellow South Korean Hyo Joo Kim and Colorado native Jennifer Kupcho. Ko, who was 24 at the time, started the final round with a three-stroke deficit but carded a 4-under 67 on Sunday to earn her second major championship title of the season following her earlier victory at the 2019 ANA Inspiration. The victory marked the third of four wins that season for Ko, who became the first player to win multiple majors in a single season since 2015. She also took over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings, a position she held until Korda moved to No. 1 in July with her victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

The picturesque Evian Resort Golf Club, set on the side of a mountain overlooking Lake Geneva, plays as a par 71 and stretches 6,527 yards. The resort has hosted every edition of the tournament, which began in 1994 as a Ladies European Tour event called the Evian Masters. It became a part of the LPGA Tour in 2000 and became a major championship in 2013, changing its name to Evian Championship. The course record is 61, set by Hyo Joo Kim in the first round in 2014.

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Recent Evian Championship winners:

2019: Jin Young Ko, 269 (-15)
2018: Angela Stanford, 272 (-12)
2017*: Anna Nordqvist, 204 (-9); defeated Brittany Altomare on the first playoff hole
2016: In Gee Chun, 263 (-21)
2015: Lydia Ko, 268 (-16)
*Tournament shortened to 54 holes


Picks:

The obvious: …Nelly Korda (+900). The newly ascended world No. 1 faces her first major test in the top spot and arrives in Evian off a T-17 last week at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational, where played with sister Jessica in the team event. This week marks Korda’s fourth start at Evian and comes just four weeks after her victory at the KPMG Women’s PGA, where she dominated at Atlanta Athletic Club for her third title this season and sixth of her career. She also has five other top 10s on the year, which is sure to translate into increased confidence in France. She’s missed just one cut in 12 starts this season, and she’s missed the cut just once at Evian -- in 2017 -- and since finished T-61 in 2018 and T-25 in 2019. 

Best bet: …Jin Young Ko (+1000). Ko will defend her 2019 title in her fifth start at Evian, where she’s never missed a cut. This week marks her return to action following a two-week break since winning in Texas at the Volunteers of America Classic. It’s been four weeks since Korda supplanted Ko as world No. 1, although Ko claims her current motivation isn’t to regain the top spot but rather to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Of course, winning a third career major this week would provide a major boost in momentum. On the season, Ko is 10-for-11 in cuts made and has seven top 10s, highlighted by her recent win and a podium finish (T-3) at the LA Open.

Can’t count out: …Lydia Ko. Listed at +2500, the 24-year-old New Zealander earned her first career major title at Evian in 2015 with a six-stroke victory over Lexi Thompson. Then just 18, Ko became the youngest woman to win a major, and her final-round 63 set a new mark at the time for lowest final round at a major. “My final round here the year that I won in '15 is probably some of the best golf that I've played,” Ko told media on Tuesday. She’s enjoying a resurgence this season, too, since breaking a nearly three-year winless streak with a victory in April at the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii. Ko has notched five other top-10 finishes, including a solo second at the ANA Inspiration, where she bettered her own final-round mark with a Sunday 61. This week marks her eighth start at Evian, where she’s made six cuts – missing for the only time in 2019 – and has five top 10s including a solo second in 2013.. Ko undoubtedly hopes the week will be positive sendoff to the Tokyo Olympics as she looks to better her bronze-medal performance at the 2016 Rio Games. “I'll be doing Olympics and the two Scottish events and have a pretty big break after that,” Ko said. “Yeah, this is an important and big stretch for me, so just making sure that I'm physically feeling good as well as mentally.”

Long shot: …Matilda Castren. Listed at +3000, Castren may not be as much of a long shot as she is unproven in her sophomore year on tour, but she arrives in France off a massive win last week in her home country of Finland at the LET’s Gant Ladies Open. She also broke through for her maiden LPGA Tour win last month with a two-stroke victory at the LPGA Mediheal Championship. Her most recent victory earned the 26-year-old her LET Membership and eligibility to represent Europe at the Solheim Cup, where Castren would be the first Finn to play on Team Europe. “(The) Solheim Cup is just like the biggest one for us women. Yeah, it would mean everything to be a part of the team,” she told media Tuesday. This week marks her first start at Evian – and just her fourth career start in a major – but so far this season, Castren has made six cuts in nine LPGA starts and has four finishes inside the top 15, including a solo second earlier this month at the Volunteers of America Classic.


How to watch:

Tune in to watch the Amundi Evian Championship, July 22-25, on Golf Channel and NBC as well as live streaming on the NBC Sports app and NBCSports.com (all times Eastern): 

Thursday: 5-7 a.m., 9:30-11:30 a.m., Golf Channel
Friday: 5-7 a.m., 9:30-11:30 a.m., Golf Channel
Saturday: 5:30-8:30 a.m., Golf Channel; 8:30-11 a.m., CNBC
Sunday: 5:30-8:30 a.m., Golf Channel; 8:30-11 a.m., CNBC
 
Live streaming: Thursday and Friday, 7-8 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

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Lisa Antonucci

Lisa Antonucci is a veteran sportswriter and editor with more than 20 years’ experience covering breaking news, events and features. She has covered golf at the professional, college and amateur levels in addition to seven Olympic Games. Lisa is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, where she was a member of the varsity women’s golf team and has a master’s degree from the University of Florida.