The weather had been the main talking point at the Evian Championship until late yesterday, when Lydia Ko, a 16-year-old amateur from New Zealand, birdied the final two holes for a 67 and suddenly became the focus of attention.
On seven under par, the teenager was tied for second with Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and just one behind Japan’s Mika Miyazato as she set her sights on becoming the youngest-ever winner of a women’s major.
It’s been a tough few days for the Championship. Millions of euros have been ploughed into the event in order to earn the prized title of a women’s major but there has been little reward for the years of planning, meticulous organisation and many arduous and stressful times over the past nine months spent completely rebuilding the course.
There have been numerous award ceremonies, gala dinners and champagne receptions but the weather has rather spoiled the party at the picturesque French resort which, of course, is most famous for the production of bottled water. This week, the stuff has just flowed from the heavens.
Thursday was a complete wash-out due to heavy rain and today the forecast is even worse. There is a possibility the players could still be battling it out for the trophy on Tuesday.
On Friday, the Ladies Professional Golf Association took the almost unprecedented decision to reduce the event to 54 holes – the only other women’s major to be similarly slashed was the 1996 LPGA Championship won by England’s Laura Davies at an equally soggy DuPont Country Club in Delaware.
But, if Ko goes on to win, she won’t care what day it is. She would be the second amateur to win a women’s major, joining the 1967 US Women’s Open Champion, France’s Catherine Lacoste, in the record books.
The bespectacled youngster made her birdies at the final two holes from no more than six feet and she also picked up shots at the third and fourth. Yet she was still frustrated.
“I hit the ball great and I did chip in for par at one hole,” said the girl who has already won four times playing alongside the professionals. “But I missed so many birdie putts that the anger was building up.”
Catriona Matthew, the only Scot in the field, made the cut on the final mark of four over par after matching rounds of 73. For some reason, she has never found her best form at this course.
Back to the weather and Heather Daly-Donofrio, a former player and now senior vice-president of tour operations for the LPGA, gave a gloomy outlook on the hope of getting the Championship finished today.
“We had four inches of rain last week and that attributed to Thursday’s wipe out,” she explained. “There is five times as much rain forecast for the next couple of days.”