Coming into the 2014 Evian Championship Ame..."/>

Coming into the 2014 Evian Championship Ame..."/>

LPGA: Americans to Watch at the Evian Championship


Aug 17, 2013; Parker, CO, USA; Paula Creamer (left) and Stacy Lewis (right) of team U.S. react after a match point is gained on the eighth green during the second round of the 2013 Solheim Cup at the Colorado Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the 2014 Evian Championship American players have won three of the four 2014 LPGA Majors and 8 American players are world ranked in the top-20.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all 8 are members of the 2013 Solheim Cup Team USA that will be remembered as the only team in Solheim history to lose the Cup on home soil.  Yet those 8 women who left the Colorado Golf Club thoroughly defeated a little more than a year ago have been playing for redemption and victory this year.  They’ve compiled a collective record of 58 top-10 finishes that includes wins at two Major Tour championships — the Kraft Nabisco and the US Women’s Open — and 7 regularly scheduled Tour events.   All 8 are bringing winning games to the 2014 Evian Championship.  The Stars and Stripes will be out in full force and the Americans are on the hunt for another Major victory.

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Although Mo Martin, who won the Ricoh Women’s British Open, is still sidelined with an injury, Kraft Nabisco champion Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie, who won the US Women’s Open, are coming into the Evian on the hunt for a 2nd Major victory.

Lexi Thompson winner of the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Thompson has been a precocious record-breaker, the youngest player to qualify for an US Open (at age 12 in 2007) and the youngest to win a tournament on the American circuit in 2011, the Navistar LPGA Classic (at 16 ½), the same year she won her first title on the Ladies European Tour (the Dubai Ladies Masters).

Last year, 2013, Thompson placed 3rd at the Evian, then ended the season with victories at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

Although she’s been in a bit of a slump since June and the US Women’s Open, Thompson’s at ease on the Evian Championship course.  At 19, this will be Thompson’s 5th Evian appearance.

Michelle Wie comes to Evian as a favorite despite a missed cut at the Women’s British Open and a hand injury that caused her to miss the fourth Major of the season, the Wegman’s LPGA Championship. Wie’s returning to competition at the Evian currently leading in the competition for the Rolex Annika Major Award.

Wie had a complicated start to her professional career but seems to have had a breakthrough this season, after enduring four long years without a victory.

Two weeks after a strong second-place finish at the Kraft Nabisco in early April, Wie won her third career title at the LPGA Lotte Championship, but it was in June that she finally scaled the heights, winning her first major title in the US Women’s Open.

Like Lexi Thompson, Michelle Wie is very comfortable on the Evian track.  This will be her 7th appearance at the Evian Championship and if her hand injury is healed I’m looking for Wie to claim a place at or near the top of the leaderboard on Sunday.

Only once this year has world ranked no. 1 Stacy Lewis left the top twenty-five on the LPGA leaderboards and she’s added three wins to her career record of 11 victories.  The consistency of her high-level play this year has restored Lewis to a commanding position in women’s world golf.

Lewis has said she welcomes the fact that Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Suzann Pettersen are keeping the pressure on her, pushing her to sharpen her game, and they will all be pushing her this week.  Defending champion Pettersen, still looking for her first 2014 victory, would like to make it back-to-back at the Evian.  Ko would like to claim her first Major championship while still a rookie; and Park needs the Evian win to complete a Career Grand Slam.

This year –  her sixth in France – Lewis is still seeking her first victory at the event, which she came close to achieving twice in recent years (placing 2nd in 2011 and 2012).

Lewis is focussed on the win:

"You know, when you finish second twice, you dream of just one thing: finishing first! And now that Evian is a major tournament, this desire is ten times bigger."

In addition to Thompson, Wie and Lewis, I’m keeping Cristie Kerr, Lizette Salas, Angela Stanford, Paula Creamer and Jessica Korda on my watch list.

Kerr, who’s world ranked no. 11 and Stanford, who’s ranked no. 15, are both hunting a win and they’re both very experienced Evian competitors.  Kerr, whose best Evian finish came in 2009 (3rd place) is making her 14th Evian appearance this year.  Stanford, also with a 3rd place finish (2011) will be making her 9th Evian appearance.

Creamer, Salas and Korda are all 2014 champions and Creamer is also a past Evian champion (2009).  Salas, world ranked 13, is making her 2nd Evian appearance.  Creamer, ranked at 16, will be playing her 9th Evian; and Korda, ranked 19th and bringing two 2014 wins to the Evian –the Pure Silk-Bahamas in January and the Airbus LPGA Classic in May — is making her 3rd Evian appearance.

Who among these 8 is most likely to play to the top of the leaderboard?  I’m looking for a contest between Michelle Wie and Stacy Lewis with Lewis playing hard to overcome her US Women’s Open runner up to Wie’s victory.  But I’m not counting out Cristie Kerr and Paula Creamer.  They’re both fierce competitors and if Lewis or Wie stumbles, Kerr and Creamer will be there ready to take advantage of the opening and snatch the top of the board.

Still, barring disaster, I see Lewis fighting off Inbee Park, Lydia Ko, and Suzann Pettersen and making the Evian Championship her own.