5 players to watch on Rolex ANNIKA Major Award list heading into LPGA's final major

Lexi Thompson ANA Inspiration Getty Images

5 players to watch on Rolex ANNIKA Major Award list heading into LPGA's final major

LPGA Tour

5 players to watch on Rolex ANNIKA Major Award list heading into LPGA's final major

It took a history-making performance from In Gee Chun – the best in major championship history, to be exact – to beat So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park at last year’s Evian Championship.

Chun’s 21-under performance set the record for men’s and women’s majors. Now Ryu and Park come into the fifth major of 2017 with recent titles under their belt. Both are two-time winners this year, with Ryu collecting her second major title at the ANA Inspiration and rookie Park clinching the U.S. Women’s Open crown.

The LPGA announced in 2014 a new postseason accolade – the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award – to recognize the player with the season’s most outstanding major championship record. Michelle Wie, Inbee Park and Lydia Ko were the first three recipients.

Heading into this year’s Evian on Sept. 14-17, World No. 1 Ryu holds an 18-point lead over In-Kyung Kim, Danielle Kang and Park. A third-place finish from any of these players at Evian would tie Ryu, should she place below that mark.

Here are five players to watch at the extravagant Evian Championship, where a skydiver parachutes onto the 18th green to wrap the champion in her native flag:

So Yeon Ryu

World Ranking: 1

Last time at Evian: T-2

Becoming No. 1 has toughened Ryu, who this year tied for third at the U.S. Women’s Open after her ANA triumph. She has 12 top-5 finishes in 31 career major championship appearances. Ryu spends the first 30 minutes of each lesson talking positives with swing coach Cameron McCormick, who also works with Jordan Spieth among others.

Sung Hyun Park

World Ranking: 3

Last time at Evian: T-2

One of three multiple winners on tour this year, the 10-time winner on the Korean LPGA nearly won both the U.S. Women’s Open and Evian in her debut. She succeeded in her second try at Trump National. Can she do the same at Evian? Park’s caddie, David Jones, helped Chun win it last year.

Lexi Thompson

World Ranking: 2

Last time at Evian: T-22

Sneaky solid in France, with three top-10s in four appearances, including a third-place finish in 2013 and a runner-up in 2015. Long bomber leads the tour in greens, sand saves, rounds in the 60s and scoring. Not to mention, she’s 10th in putting. What’s not to love?

In-Kyung Kim

World Ranking: 8

Last time at Evian: 6th

Would be silly not to include the hottest player on the LPGA. Took an extended break after winning the Ricoh Women’s British Open, her third title since early June. There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about Kim’s game, except she keeps winning.

In Gee Chun

World Ranking: 6

Last time at Evian: 1st

Two-time major champ has yet to record a victory this year, but a T-3 in Canada marked her fifth top-3 finish of the season. Leads the tour in rounds under par with 47. Opened last year’s Evian with a 63 and closed in record-setting fashion.

(Note: This story appears in the Sept. 4, 2017 issue of Golfweek.)

 

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