(September 15, 2013)-It would not be a major championship on the LPGA without numerous rain delays wreaking havoc on the tournament. The tour has been plagued with rain throughout the year and this weekend in Evian-les-Bains, France was no exception. Suzann Pettersen however was able to endure the deluge that Mother Nature had to offer and won the second major championship of her career.
The Evian Championship was bumped up from a respected tournament to the fifth major on tour and its debut will be remembered as a soggy one. The tournament was cut to 54 holes, a decision that LPGA officials did not make lightly but with the forecast not looking to improve in the next several days it was no doubt the best decision.
Although this year has largely been focused on world number one Inbee Park who racked up the first three majors of the year, Park’s game has cooled off over the past few months and Pettersen’s has kicked into high gear.
Pettersen coming off of a win only two weeks ago at the Safeway Classic in Portland, Ore. continued her summer of sizzling play, which also included being a part of the winning European squad at the Solheim Cup in August. Ranked third in the world it is the third win for Pettersen this season and fifth in the last year.
Her consistency paid off in a long day that was delayed by another short rain delay prior to the final round. Lift, clean and place was in effect for the players which made the round play even longer. Beginning the round one shot off of the lead held by Mika Miyazato, Pettersen was able to minimize the errors in her round before posting a final score of 68, which included four birdies and a lone bogey on her scorecard to seal the two shot victory.
While Miyazato struggled and shot 78, Lydia Ko also paired with the duo put up the strongest fight to finish two shots behind Pettersen at -8. Ko, a South Korean native who resides in New Zealand is only 16 years old and still holds her amateur status. Yet after winning her fourth professional tournament this past summer in Canada the clock is ticking loudly for her to start cashing in on some of these victories. Her second place finish at Evian is another big check that the teenager has passed up and Ko has now turned down over a million dollars by refraining from turning pro.
Pettersen known for her steely focus on the course remained fairly at ease throughout the day. She did however show a flash of her competitive temper on the par five 13th when her second shot ended up in an area that she felt should have been marked as ground under repair. Loudly disputing with the rules official when he would not grant her relief from the spot, Pettersen did go on to make par but not before questioning his competency as a LPGA rules official.
Pettersen also scrambled for an excellent par on the 17th to maintain her two shot lead going into the 18th after a wayward drive forced her to punch out to the fairway. Able to get up and down on the 17th, Pettersen then watched as Ko just missed a long birdie try on the 18th. That miss eased the pressure off of Pettersen who was able to finish off with a two-putt par and finally celebrate another major championship.
While Ko may be the star of the future, Pettersen remains one of the best players in the world right now. And if not for the incredible run by Park earlier in the year with her three consecutive major titles then Pettersen would be making a good case for Player of the Year. Instead the chase to catch Park and her number one ranking should heat up. Pettersen’s win at Evian ensured that only the top three players in the world (Park, Stacy Lewis and Pettersen) would take home a major championship this year. It also increased the gap between the top three in the world and the rest of the field.
With 327 consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Rolex world rankings, Pettersen has been as high as world number two. She has watched as some of the greatest names in golf have held that coveted spot. If she keeps playing like she has this summer, that number one ranking just might belong to the most consistent player on tour.