It’s not easy to pick the winner of a major championship in women’s golf. Over the last 21 majors there have been 20 different champions. The most recent: Allisen Corpuz, who captured the United States Women’s Open at Pebble Beach earlier this month for her first tour victory.
Will the trend continue at the Amundi Evian Championship, which begins on Thursday at the Evian Resort Golf Club in France? The chances are pretty good given the many talented players who could get on a roll.
Here are five golfers to keep an eye on.
No one in women’s golf has generated more buzz recently than Zhang. While a student at Stanford, she claimed her second straight N.C.A.A. individual championship, which no woman had done. Then, after turning professional, she defeated Jennifer Kupcho on the second hole of a playoff in the Mizuho Americas Open to become the first woman since Beverly Hanson, in 1951, to win her pro debut.
Zhang, 20, played well in her first two attempts at winning a major this year: a tie for eighth at the KPMG Women’s P.G.A. Championship in June, where she was in contention until finding the water with her tee shot on the 18th hole, and a tie for ninth at the U.S. Women’s Open. Zhang has a chance to be a member of the U.S. squad at this year’s Solheim Cup matches in Spain.
What can Corpuz possibly do for an encore? Win her second major. Corpuz, 25 — who almost backed up her Open triumph with another win a week later at the Dana Open, finishing second by three — was unflappable during the final round of the Open, as she became the first American woman to win it since Brittany Lang, in 2016. Corpuz played the last 11 holes in one under par and was the only one to break par in each of the four rounds. “It was something I had dreamed of,” she said, “but at the same time kind of just never really expected it to happen.”
The victory wasn’t a total surprise. In late April, she was tied for the lead after three rounds of the Chevron Championship, the first major of the year, before shooting a 74 to finish in a tie for fourth. She tied for 15th at the KPMG Women’s P.G.A. Corpuz became the second player from Hawaii to win the U.S. Women’s Open. The first was Michelle Wie West in 2014.
Poor Ko. It has been that kind of year. Can she recover from what took place two weeks ago in the final round of the Dana Open, when she was assessed six penalty strokes for playing preferred lies, and another for picking up her ball? Preferred lies come into play when a golfer is allowed to move the ball because of the course becoming too wet. It had rained heavily on Saturday, so the players were allowed to play preferred lies on holes No. 1 and 10, but Ko also adjusted her ball position on three other holes. As a result, her score was a 78, dropping her into a tie for 65th.
It was fair to expect a stellar 2023 from Ko, 26, after what she accomplished last season when she was the Player of the Year and won the Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average (68.9). Early in the season, however, Ko of New Zealand missed the cut at the Chevron Championship, tied for 57th at the KPMG and tied for 33rd at the Open.
The year was going very well for the No. 2-ranked Korda, with six top-six finishes in her first seven starts — until an ailing back forced her to miss tournaments in May and June. Still in pursuit of her first tour victory this year, she has an opportunity to make up for lost time. And it looks like she might do just that. Two weeks ago, Korda won the individual title in the Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Team Series. She hopes to “take that momentum into the next two big events.”
In the majors, she finished third at the Chevron Championship, missed the cut at the KPMG and closed with an 80 at the U.S. Women’s Open to finish in a tie for 64th. Korda, who turns 25 on Friday, won her lone major at the 2021 KPMG Women’s P.G.A.
Jin Young Ko
Ko of South Korea is due to break out of her small slump. She hasn’t posted a top-10 result since a victory at the Cognizant Founders Cup in May. She certainly knows how to come up big in big events. In 2019, she won the ANA Inspiration and the Evian Championship. With 13 top-10 finishes in 2018, Ko, 28, was the L.P.G.A.’s Rookie of the Year, and in 2019 she was the Player of the Year, an honor she received again in 2021. In late June, she passed the former star Lorena Ochoa of Mexico to set a record for the most weeks (159) at No. 1. “It’s an honor people saying with Lorena and me in the same sentence,” she said. “It makes me happy, but also it makes me humble.”