Now that you’re curious, MSP stands for Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Anything is possible!
Kudos if you did not read that subtitle in Kevin Garnett’s voice.
Anywho, the Evian Championship, the fourth women’s major championship of the year, is off and running in France! It’s still early in the tournament, but lots of potential storylines are emerging. Yealimi Noh and Pajaree Anannarukarn hold the 18-hole lead as we write this, but that will have changed by the time you read it. Time, it just doesn’t stop! Leaderboard
With more than 50 players within five shots of the lead, it’s impossible to predict who is going to contend on Sunday. That said, there are a few categories of players that will likely shape this weekend’s action.
The powerhouses – Plenty of big names are in position, including Ariya Jutanugarn (T-8), Minjee Lee (T-11), In Gee Chun (T-11), Brooke Henderson (T-23), and So Yeon Ryu (T-23). Minjee Lee is the only one of that group who has not won a major, but no one would be surprised if she changed that this weekend.
The budding stars – This is perhaps the most intriguing set of contenders. An Evian win would do wonders for the careers of Yealimi Noh (T-1), Matilda Castren (T-11), Pauline Roussin-Bouchard (T-11), Tsubasa Kajitani (T-11), Austin Ernst (T-23), and Leona Maguire (T-23). Roussin-Bouchard and Kajitani are both amateurs, and both finished in the top three at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur earlier this year, with Kajitani taking the title. Matilda Castren has shot up the Rolex Rankings recently, winning at Lake Merced last month and in Europe last week. She’s now eligible for the Solheim Cup and could cement her place at the top of the game with a victory this weekend.
The lesser knowns – Looking to repeat Hinako Shibuno’s 2019 Cinderella story are Pajaree Anannarukarn (T-1), Atthaya Thitikul (T-3), and Ayaka Furue (T-3). Anannarukarn teamed up with Aditi Ashok to take T-3 at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational last week; Thitikul has six top-six finishes on the Ladies European Tour this year; and Furue has been extremely consistent on the LPGA of Japan Tour. No. 30 in the Rolex Rankings, Furue is now playing in her 21st consecutive tournament.
The comeback stories – A few players appear to be recovering their old form in France. Hyo Joo Kim (T-8), the 2014 Evian champion, won on the LPGA Tour this year for the first time since 2016 and could snag her second major this week. Maria Fassi (T-11), ANWA runner-up and NCAA individual champion in 2019, has struggled mightily in the professional ranks. Getting herself in contention would mean breaking the longest period of substandard form in her career. Then there’s Lydia Ko (T-11). Much has been written about her inability to replicate her teenage dominance, but she’s started to figure it out over the past 12 months. She nabbed a victory at the Lotte Championship in April, but adding a major title for the first time since 2016 would be huge for one of the most precocious players the game has seen.
Rickie Fowler is tied for the lead with Troy Merritt through 18 holes of the 3M Open in Minnesota. A victory for Rick would mark his recovery from a long slump. Check back in on Monday. Leaderboard
2011 Open champion Darren Clarke shot a first-round 65 to tie James Kingston for the lead at the Senior Open Championship. Should Clarke go on to win, he’d join Gary Player, Bob Charles, and Tom Watson as the only players to win both the Open and Senior Open (h/t Adam Schupak). Leaderboard
Vincent Norrman and Nacho Elvira chipped their way to an early lead at the Cazoo Open on the European Tour. Leaderboard
If you didn’t step on the gas at the Price Cutter Charity Championship on Thursday, you are already well behind. More than three dozen players shot 67 or better during the first round at this Korn Ferry Tour event. Leaderboard
The PGA Tour Champions would like you to know just how proud they are of Giannis Antetokounmpo… and Jerry Kelly and Steve Stricker.
The Latest from The Fried Egg
Does Women’s Golf Need Five Majors? – With several stars skipping out on the Evian Championship and a general lack of buzz around the event, Meg Adkins wonders if there is a different way to organize the biggest tournaments in women’s pro golf.
Yolk with Doak 29: The Opening of St. Patrick’s and the Making of Pacific Dunes
The Yolk with Doak returns! In the first of two new episodes of our interview series with golf architect Tom Doak, we cover the recent grand opening of St. Patrick’s Links at the Rosapenna Hotel & Golf Resort in Ireland. Tom and Andy chat about where the course would land on the Doak Scale and the unique challenge of finishing the project during a global pandemic. They also discuss Tom’s new book, The Making of Pacific Dunes, which is available for purchase at doakgolf.com. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
Shotgun Start: Summer hours and Friday story time
This Friday episode begins with the building anticipation for a lifelong dream realized, Rory Sabbatini representing Slovakia in the Olympics. Andy and Brendan then transition to early action from across the world of golf, with some inside intel on how Evian became a major as well as the compelling Yealimi Noh background. On the Senior Tour, they praise the early scenes from Sunningdale. Rickie leading the 3M is cause to tell an amusing story of investigative reporting from one listener who was propositioned about sponsoring a tour player. Different rates for different items and corporate appearances are bandied about, with an amusing conclusion on how the agency figured out that maybe this company wasn’t interested in sponsoring anyone at all. Our Swedish correspondent relays some interesting background on Vincent Norrman, the leader on the Euro Tour, and our Sandwich correspondent delivers a Flashback Friday tale to last week on perhaps the most dramatic moment Collin Morikawa faced at the Open, at least off the course. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher, and Spotify.
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