Stan­ford Rides Roller Coaster To Evian Vic­tory

Her first ma­jor win af­ter 18 years on Tour

Golf Asia - - CONTENTS - BY EL­SPETH BURN­SIDE

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

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