To get a feel for what's at stake this week, be sure to check out the Evian press kit, web site (among the top 3 all year), twitter feed, and new youtube channel, previews by the LPGA and LET, and the preview by Mostly Harmless's own Tony Jesselli. You can also review my tournament previews from 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010.
Between recent results on the LPGA and JLPGA, Hound Dog's Hot 20, the official tournament history, Golf Observer's historical performance stats, and my own Evian Sunday round-ups from 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, a few patterns present themselves:
- Only truly special players do really well at Evian on their 1st try. Karrie Webb came in 2nd and Se Ri Pak 5th (to Annika Sorenstam) back in 2000, Paula Creamer won in 2005, Ji-Yai Shin came in 3rd in 2007, and Lexi Thompson came in 2nd in 2010. (Yes, the jury's still out on Lexi, but she did better on her 1st try than JLPGA superstars Momoko Ueda and Sun-Ju Ahn, both T6 in 2007, as well as Michelle Wie, whose 2 silvers came after an inaugural T33 in 2004, and Meena Lee, whose T5 in 2005 seems to be the only big exception to this rule.)
- You'd better be a really good ball-striker with precise distance control if you want to win at Evian. Although it's one of the shorter courses the LPGA plays, only 1 real bomber, Helen Alfredsson, has won here. It's difficult to go out and overpower this hilly course--just ask Ya Ni Tseng, who hasn't cracked the top 10 here in her previous 3 attempts. 3 of the last 4 and 4 of the last 6 winners have been precision players. And there have been more precision players in the mix late on Sunday than straight shooters or bombers since I've been writing about this tournament.
- Don't expect the eventual winner to run away with this thing. Last year, Ji-Yai Shin broke a string of 3-straight playoffs, but she needed a walkoff birdie to avoid one with Morgan Pressel, Na Yeon Choi, and Lexi Thompson.
- This week should be a birdie-fest unless the weather acts up. Which, of course, it has been lately. (Even in the 1 recent year where the weather was bad, though, the playoff ended up being between 2 precision players!)
1. Kim In-Kyung
2. Miyazato Mika
6. Miyazato Ai
8. Choi Na Yeon
11. Lee Meena
Alts: Hjorth, Pettersen, Saiki
I'll have a separate post on the pairings once they're released!
[Update 1 (1:48 pm): Here's Hound Dog's preview.]
[Update 2 (1:58 pm): And here's Brent Kelley's.]
[Update 3 (7/20/11, 1:24 pm): Here's my list of my favorite 1st-round pairings.]
[Update 4 (10:42 pm): Here are the pre-tournament interviews.]