Four share lead at Evian Championship bursting with intrigue

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Four share lead at Evian Championship bursting with intrigue

LPGA Tour

Four share lead at Evian Championship bursting with intrigue

The Evian Championship’s crammed leaderboard is bursting with riveting storylines. From co-leader Maria Torres (8 under) trying to win nearly one year after Hurricane Maria devastated her native Puerto Rico, to Mighty Mo Martin (8 under) trying to make her second LPGA title a second major, to veteran Angela Stanford’s (6 under) bid to claim a long-awaited major as her mother battles cancer.

There’s salt-of-the-earth Amy Olson (8 under), who played in the final group for the first time at this year’s ANA Inspiration; the quiet but aggressive Carlota Ciganda (7 under) of Spain; and the game’s most recent major winner Georgia Hall (6 under), who proved at Royal Lytham that she can handle any stage. LPGA headliners Brooke Henderson, (6 under), So Yeon Ryu (both 6 under) and Inbee Park (5 under) are also on the prowl.

Players have raved this week about Evian Resort Golf Club, saying the course has never looked better since becoming a major. The rough is up, the setup is stern and all types of players are in contention.

Four players share the lead at 8-under 134: Olson (65), Martin (66), Torres (69) and Mi Hyang Lee (66).

An American has not won the Evian since it became a major in 2013. In fact, the last American winner was Natalie Gulbis in 2007.

Olson (nee Anderson) hails from Oxbow, N.D., a place few Americans are familiar with let alone the French. Total population: maybe 300. When asked to describe where she’s from, Olson said extremely flat.

“They say if your dog runs away you’ll still see him two days later,” said Olson, laughing. “Lots of farmland. Just really solid, like quality people. Hard-working. The people are really what makes it.”

There have been eight first-time winners on the LPGA already this season, including major winners Pernilla Lindberg (ANA) and Hall (WBO).

Torres would fit that bill too. Playing in only her second major, the Florida grad came out and bogeyed the first two holes in the rain after sleeping on the lead.

“After the two bogeys I’m like, ‘You should start playing right now,’ ” Torres said. The pep talk worked. She birdied three of the next five holes to retain a share of the 36-hole lead.

Martin got off to a rough start Friday when she forgot to bring her yardage book to the course. Luckily, caddie Craig Castrale had an old one on hand, and they didn’t skip a beat.

“It was pretty magical,” said Martin of her round, “just like this place.”

Apparently being absent-minded isn’t unusual for Martin. She warned Castrale from the start three years ago.

“I told him when we first started working together, I said, ‘I’m going to have no idea where my car keys are or my badge,’ ” said Martin. “He was like, ‘Ha, ha.’ And then he was like, ‘Oh, my God. You’re serious.’ ”

The worst, or maybe the best, example of this being the day she got her driver’s license.

“… I had everything that said I was a human being in a file,” said Martin, “put it on the top of the car.”

And off she went, down a major street with her passport, birth certificate and shoes blowing in the wind.

One thing Martin hasn’t forgotten: What it took to win at Royak Birkdale in 2014 with a closing eagle.

That sort of thing tends to stick.

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