Jeongeun Lee6 continued her march toward major history Saturday at the Amundi Evian Championship in France with a three-under 68 to sit at 18 under par. The 2019 U.S. Women’s Open champion holds a five-shot lead and is three strokes off the all-time major scoring record of 21 under set by In Gee Chun at the 2016 Evian Championship.
“I’m waiting so much for my second win,” Lee6 said. “But this tournament is even the major tournament. If I win, I’ll be very happy. Huge honor.”
If recent history in LPGA Tour majors has shown anything, it’s far from a given that the 25-year-old will earn her second career victory despite the significant lead.
At the last three Evian Championships, with the 2020 edition canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the winner trailed by four shots or more heading into the final round. Defending champion Jin Young Ko was behind Hyo Joo Kim by four going into Sunday. Ko closed with a 67 to win by two, taking the lead on the 14th when Kim tripled the downhill par 3 for a three-shot swing.
In 2018, Angela Stanford trailed 54-hole leader Amy Olson by five before beating her by a shot. Stanford was in the clubhouse at 12 under as Olson played the 18th, needing a par to win and a bogey to get into a playoff before three-putting for double bogey.
Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Altomare trailed Moriya Jutanugarn by five in 2017 before both posted a 66 to face off in a playoff, with Jutanugarn bogeying the 18th to miss out playing extra holes. Nordqvist defeated Altomare on the first playoff hole for the Swede’s second major title.
Over the last three Evian Championships, the leader going into Sunday averaged a 73 in the final round.
This season has particularly highlighted the possibilities of catching leaders on Sunday. At the U.S. Women’s Open, Lexi Thompson held a five-shot lead with eight holes to play before posting a 41 on the back nine. She missed out on a playoff, won by Yuka Saso over Nasa Hataoka.
At the ANA Inspiration, Lydia Ko made up six shots to eventual winner Patty Tavatanakit during the final round with a scorching 10-under 62, but lost by two.
Ko has also gone low Sunday at the Evian Resort Golf Club before, winning in 2015 after trailing 54-hole leader Mi Hyang Lee by two going into the final round. Ko shot a 63 to win by six, the largest margin of victory at the Evian since it became a major in 2013. The 16-time winner looks to conjure her Sunday major magic once again, playing in the final group and trailing Lee6 by six.
“With golf you just never know,” Ko said. “It’s never the end until the glove comes off and the final putt drops in on the last. I just got to stick to my game plan and see. There is so many big names, a lot of players playing well. I have to focus on me and go from there.”
Yealimi Noh rounds out the final group Sunday at five back. The 19-year-old is looking for her first career top-10 at a major during her eighth consecutive week playing on the LPGA.
“Obviously it’s going to be a long day,” Noh said. “It’s going to be tough mentally. It’s my eighth week in a row which is my first time doing that. It’s definitely tiring, so my body is kind of getting there. But I’m hoping that I can fight it out mentally and just rest and just play my game tomorrow.
“I don’t want to think about chasing. If it gets there, then it will.”
For Lee6 to win on Sunday, it’ll be a different formula than at the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open. She trailed by two going into the final round at the Country Club of Charleston before her breakthrough victory. Her focus is on maintaining her process to claim her second major title. The process already achieved history with a 10-under 61 on Friday, matching the lowest major round in golf history.
“I’m going to play the same [as] today,” Lee6 explained. “I don’t know tomorrow’s weather. Maybe it’s supposed to be not nice, so just my backswing and rhythm, just focus on process, not results.”