Stanford Rides Roller Coaster To Evian Victory
Her first major win after 18 years on Tour
American veteran Angela Stanford shot a final-round 68 to score a shock victory in the final major of the season, the Evian Championship. Stanford thought she had lost her chance of victory when she failed to make birdie at the 18th but Amy Olson, who had led all day, then took a double-bogey six at the last.
Stanford finished on 12-under-par 272 and won the US$577,000 first prize by a shot from Olson (74), Mo Martin (70), Kim Sei-young (72) and Austin Ernst (68). The 40-year-old Stanford, 18 years a professional, had finally won a major, "I really don't know what has just happened," said Stanford, unable to hold back the tears. "But I am so happy. Sometimes things just catch you off guard. Just when you think you're done then this happens. It's pretty cool."
Stanford was the first American to win the Evian Championship since it became a major five years ago. "I do feel sorry for Amy," Stanford said. "I wasn't rooting for her to miss the putt on 18. But she is young, and her time will come. You always think you're good enough to win a major, but after 18 years on Tour doubts definitely begin to creep in," said Stanford, who came close to winning the 2003 US Women’s Open but lost by one stroke to Hilary Lunke in a three-way 18-hole play-off. "I never thought about winning until the 16th. And then we know what happened. But I am a grinder and a fighter, and I never give up.
The Rolex ANNIKA Major Award
Established in 2014 and named after the only golfer to have won all five titles, Swedish golf legend Annika Sörenstam. Annika has claimed 10 Major titles over 12 years, won 72 LPGA tournaments in total, and became only the second woman to be named Rolex Player of the Year right after being named Rolex Rookie of the Year, going on to further earn a record eight Rolex Player of the Year Awards.
To be a winner of the prestigious Rolex ANNIKA Major Award, the golfer must have won at least one of the year’s five women’s Majors, all of which are supported by Rolex as part of the brand’s enduring commitment to golf at every level. Rolex is also a partner of the leading team tournament in women’s golf, the Solheim Cup, between the best European and US players.
With a stellar season, 22 year old Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand has won the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award this year, she received the honour thanks to her win at the U.S. Women’s Open, her second career major championship victory, and ties for fourth place at the ANA Inspiration and the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
With her third win this season at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open in late July, Jutanugarn moved back to No. 1 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, the first-ever comprehensive world rankings system for women players, of which Rolex has been the Title Sponsor since 2006 and another example of the brand’s commitment as a partner of the sport. Jutanugarn held onto the top spot of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for two weeks during June of 2017. She is the only Thai player (male or female) ever to reach No. 1.
A 10-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Jutanugarn claimed her first LPGA title at the 2016 Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic and ended up winning four more times that year, including the Ricoh Women’s British Open, before becoming just the second player to win the Rolex Player of the Year, Race to the CME Globe and the LPGA Official Money Title in the same season. Jutanugarn landed two more LPGA Tour victories in 2017, at the Manulife LPGA Classic and the seasonending CME Group Tour Championship. She is also a three-time champion on the Ladies European Tour. © LPGA
There's a lot more obligations that come around with that but it's really an honour and I want to keep doing it. Again, this is a new territory for me and I'm learning how to navigate the waters. But, yeah, it's definitely something that I want to keep going."
Regardless of his effort, Dechambeau headed to the PGA Tour season-ending Tour Championship as the leading Fedex Cup No. 1. "It's great being No. 1 in the Fedexcup Play-offs and it’s is something that I've dreamed of, especially going into East Lake, that's a humongous advantage and something that's quite a tremendous honour, as well," he said.
"It's an honour to be at East Lake for my first Tour Championship. It's been a long season, and I'm glad that I've been able to play as well as I've played," he said. You've got obviously five other guys that could win it outright (the Fedex Cup), and so your goal is still just to go out and win this event." He was referring to Justin Rose, who is in second place, Tony Finau (third), Dustin Johnson (fourth), Justin Thomas (fifth) and Keegan Bradley (sixth). Rose, Finau, Johnson and Thomas could deny Dechambeau should either win the Tour Championship while Bradley, should he win, would need for Dechambeau to finish tied second or worse.
Dechambeau celebrated his 25th birthday a few weeks earlier with back-toback victories in the Northern Trust and Dell Technologies Championship. The current world No. 8 celebrated making his Ryder Cup debut and could be partnering Woods in Versailles. "I don't know that answer why we've clicked, but what I can tell you is that it's always fun picking Tiger’s brain a little bit,” said Dechambeau. "By being in the top-five, I control my own destiny," he added.
Angela Stanford, winner of the Evian Championship 2018
Rolex Testimonee Annika Sörenstam presents Ariya Jutanugarn with the Rolex ANNIKA Major Award trophy
Rolex Testimonee Lydia Ko during round one of the Evian Championship 2018
Rolex Testimonee Brooke Henderson
Bryson Dechambeau celebrates with the winner's trophy after the final round of The Northern Trust