Suzann Pettersen holds off teenage challenger Lydia Ko
How do you like your champagne moments? Suzann Pettersen posted her entry with victory at the Evian Championship to claim her second major championship. An eight-footer for par at the last to give her a two-shot victory over 16-year-old prodigy Lydia Ko triggered an avalanche of corks at the foot of the Alps.
It had been a while for Europe’s pre-eminent female golfer, six years in fact since her first major win at the LPGA Championship. The presence of a kid half her age in the final group demonstrated how quickly golf is renewing itself in the era of the supernova.
This year we have had a 12-year-old in a European Tour event, Ye Wocheng, and a 14-year-old at the Masters, Tianlang Guan. Ko, a New Zealand amateur of Korean descent, won last time out in Canada, defending her title from a year earlier. Staggering.
The Norwegian Pettersen, 32, put the case for the more mature golfer, restoring old conventions in a tournament cut to 54 holes because of the weather. The opening round was washed out by rain and with more forecast the decision was taken to end play as scheduled.
The senior figure around whom Europe’s Solheim Cup victory in America was built a month ago, Pettersen further substantiated her standing in the game with her second victory and fourth top-five major finish of the season. “It was worthwhile waiting for this, a major,” she said. “I was nervous coming down the stretch but I managed to make a par at the last. I have been putting better over the last five or six weeks. Putted well again today.
“Lydia played fantastically. She is a star of the future. She is good enough to win majors already at 16. This means so much. It hasn’t sunk in yet.”
Pettersen admitted that she fought the impulse to lay up on 18. “I said to [caddie] Brian, I’m just going to go for it; I’m too good to lay up.”
Overnight leader Mika Miyazato slumped to a closing 78 for a share of 15th place, while South Korea’s Inbee Park, who was attempting to become the first player to win four major titles in the same year, finished eight over. Britain’s Charley Hull failed to make the cut.
The weather also forced a suspension at the BMW Championship in Chicago, with the final round to finish today, but not before early starter Rory McIlroy escaped with a second successive 68.
With McIlroy playing 18 the weather horn sounded, warning of the coming deluge. Were he not permitted to finish McIlory was looking at returning today to complete his final hole, which explains the broad smile as he raced from the green.
The result was not enough to send McIlroy into this week’s 30-man FedEx Play Off finale in Atlanta, but after taking 155 shots to complete the opening two rounds, it was marvellous balm for his aching psyche.
McIlroy has a month to reflect on a disappointing season and build on the encouragement of his final weekend of the PGA Tour year before resuming on the European Tour for the season finale in Asia.
Dutchman Joost Luiten gave the home crowd the winner it wanted beating Miguel Angel Jimenez in a play-off at the KLM Open in Zandvoort.
“Miguel was playing great, especially on the front nine when he started with four birdies in six holes and I was struggling a little bit,” said Luiten. “I made a few mistakes and although I saved par each time I thought to just hang in there until the back nine and hopefully I can make a move there and that happened. I don’t know what it means for Dutch golf but I think it’s pretty big.”
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