Anna Nordqvist wins first major since 2009 at Evian Championship
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 18/09/17 11:54am
Anna Nordqvist claimed her second major title after edging out Brittany Altomare at the first extra hole in torrential rain on the final day of the Evian Championship.
Nordqvist and Altomare had both fired closing rounds of 66 in the final major of the year, reduced to 54 holes after Thursday's adverse weather, leaving them tied at the top on nine under and one ahead of 2015 champion Lydia Ko, Australian Katherine Kirk and overnight leader Moriya Jutanugarn.
Conditions were borderline unplayable as the top two headed back to the 18th tee with rain and hail lashing down, and neither took the risk of trying to clear the water in front of the green with their second shots to the testing par-four.
Both missed the green with their pitches and, after Altomare took three to get down from the fringe, Nordqvist held her composure to get up and down from the left of the putting surface to snatch her first major since lifting the LPGA Championship in 2009.
Nordqvist had earlier staged a stunning recovery from two bogeys over the first five holes as she followed a birdie at the sixth with a brilliant eagle at the next, while Altomare hit back from a blemish at the second with four birdies in six holes to cap an outward 32.
The Swede, who was laid low by a bout of glandular fever ahead of the Women's British Open, then soared to the top of the leaderboard with a remarkable burst of scoring on the inward half which started with a birdie at 12 and two more at 14 and 16 either side of her second eagle of the day at the 15th.
Nordqvist then opened the door for the chasing pack when she bogeyed the last, while Altomare followed a birdie at 12 with a crucial three at the penultimate hole before a brave par at the last left her in a share of the clubhouse lead with the Solheim Cup star.
Ko and Jutanugarn looked poised to make it a four-way play-off, but both bogeyed the final hole to slip into a share of second place with Kirk, who got to nine under with birdies at 14 and 15 only to bogey the next two before a rare three at the 18th ensured a share of third.
Jutanugarn maintained her lead as she mixed three birdies with two bogeys on the front half, and she still led with six holes to play until her drive disappeared out of bounds at the long 13th and cost her a bogey six.
The Thai star needed a par at the last to join the play-off, but she was forced to lay up short of the hazard and failed to get up and down as she returned a disappointing one-over 72 which robbed her of the chance to emulate her younger sister, Ariya, as a major champion.
Ko's bid for her first victory of the year also fell one shot short after the young New Zealander was unable to build on a bright start which yielded birdies at the second and third.
The former world No 1 faltered with a bogey at the long seventh, and she made another six at the 13th before responding with a birdie at 14 and an eagle at the next to reach nine under, but she was another to come to grief at the last as she carded a 69.
Nordqvist's Solheim Cup team-mate Georgia Hall began the final day just four shots off the lead, but the 21-year-old could not sustain her challenge and offset three birdies with four dropped shots in a 72, although that was good enough to record back-to-back top-10 finishes in a major following her impressive tie for third at Kingsbarns last month.
This week was also the final event for former world No 1 Ai Miyazato, who rounded off her stellar 12-year career with a 72 which left her at one-over for the tournament.
The 32-year-old won at Evian twice before the event became a major, and the Japanese star won 25 titles worldwide but a major victory remained elusive despite 10 top-10 finishes.
"Finishing my career here means a lot to me," she said. "I saw all my friends at the back of the 18th green and it almost made me cry. That's what I'll miss most. All my friends, and all the people associated with the LPGA Tour."