Evian Championship 2017: The most picturesque tournament in golf?

http://edition.cnn.com//2017/09/13/golf/evian-championship-preview-his
Updated 1702 GMT (0102 HKT) September 13, 2017

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Evian Championship is the final golf major of the women's season Records have tumbled in recent yearsThis year's tournament takes place Sept 14-17

(CNN)The scene is set for the final major battle of the season as elite golfers gather for the 2017 Evian Championship in France.

A total of 120 pros will be vying for a first prize of $547,500 when play starts on Thursday at the Evian Resort Golf Club in its picturesque setting overlooking Lake Geneva.The 6,482-yard, par 71 course has long been considered one of the most beautiful courses in the world and the tournament has proven one of the most eventful in recent years with records tumbling. In 2015, Lydia Ko made history when, aged 18 years and 142 days, the New Zealander won by six shots to become the youngest winner of a women's major.Twelve months ago, South Korea's In Gee Chun broke an all-time record, carding the lowest ever 72-hole score at a major, bettering the male mark jointly held by Henrik Stenson and Jason Day by a single stroke to finish at 21-under par. Read MoreThis year's field includes 92 of the top 100 players on the LPGA Money List, with 51 major victories between them. When play gets underway at 0745 (CET) on Thursday, don't be surprised to see history made once again come Sunday's final round. WATCH: The latest episode of CNN Living Golf

Tournament history

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What makes the Evian Championship unique

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What makes the Evian Championship unique 06:25The tournament began life as the Evian Masters back in 1994 and immediately offered a prize purse up there with the biggest on the LPGA Tour. It was the brainchild of businessman Frank Riboud whose remit was to provide an all-new tournament experience that would attract the game's best players year after year."We really want to tell the world of golf that the Evian Championship is a golf destination," Riboud told CNN's Living Golf. "We respect the other tournaments and their history, starting at St. Andrews, but we have great ambition."Aided by considerable investment, the tournament has added prestige and color to the women's game. "Early in the history of the tournament, we knew we needed to have a strong brand and a unique proposal," vice chairman Jacques Bungert told CNN."The pink color struck us as impactful, feminine and elegant. We decided it would be our main color."In 2013, the competition was renamed, rescheduled to September and awarded major status by the LPGA. Photos: Stunning beauty and big bucksThe Evian Championship – The Evian Resort Golf Club, located in Evian-les-Bains, France, is considered one of the most beautiful golf courses in Europe, boasting impressive views over lakes and mountains.Hide Caption 1 of 6 Photos: Stunning beauty and big bucksThe Evian Championship – The tournament was founded in 1994 -- originally named the Evian Masters -- but did not became the LPGA's fifth major until 2013, the same year it changed its title. It now has a prize purse of $3.25 million, second only behind the $4 million U.S. Open.Hide Caption 2 of 6 Photos: Stunning beauty and big bucksThe Evian Championship – It is one of the oldest courses in France. The Evian mineral water company bought a farm and land in 1904, before building a nine-hole golf course -- extended to 18 in 1922 -- with a view of the newly-renovated five-star Hotel Royal.Hide Caption 3 of 6 Photos: Stunning beauty and big bucksThe Evian Championship – South Korea's Inbee Park at the 2013 tournament. As well as offering views of Lake Geneva and the Alps, the Evian course, perched at a height of 500 metres, also overlooks the Swiss city of Lausanne.Hide Caption 4 of 6 Photos: Stunning beauty and big bucksThe Evian Championship – The course was completely re-landscaped between 1988 and 1990, while it was extended in 2003. In 2013, the course underwent a full renovation -- the biggest transformation in its history -- in preparation for the Evian Championship's bow as a major.Hide Caption 5 of 6 Photos: Stunning beauty and big bucksThe Evian Championship – There are two prizes on the line this week as the first ever winner of the Rolex Annika Major Award will be decided on Sunday, which honors the player with the best record in the five major this season. In order to take home the trophy, a player must have won one of those majors.Hide Caption 6 of 6Sweden's Helen Alfredsson was the first woman to lift the trophy, going on to win again in 1998 and 2008. Other past winners include Laura Davies (1995, 1996), Juli Inkster (2003) and Paula Creamer (2005), Karrie Webb (2006), Natalie Gulbis (2007) and Ai Miyazato (2009, 2011) -- all of which are in the field for this year's tournament. Miyazato, 32, is sure to attract more followers than most; the Japanese former world No. 1 has announced her final shot at Évian-les-Bains will be her last in competitive golf. READ: The evolution of the gold grand slam

Major contenders

So Yeon Ryu World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu is bidding to win her third event of the season, having emerged victorious at the NW Arkansas Championship and overcome Lexi Thompson in a playoff at the ANA Inspiration. The South Korean tied for second with Sung Hyun Park last year at the Evian Resort behind eventual winner In Gee Chun, and will be hoping to go one better in the coming days. In Gee ChunDefending champion Chun has placed second on no less than five occasions this season but has yet to win a tournament this year. The South Korean's record breaking performance at the Evian last year made headlines around the globe, and Chun is certainly no stranger to the big occasion, having secured both her LPGA Tour victories in major championships. Sung Hyun ParkThat South Korea's Sung Hyun Park could win both Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year speaks volumes about her promising future in the game. No player has achieved the feat since three-time major winner Nancy Lopez in 1978, but Park has proven she's not afraid to mix it with the more established names, winning the Canadian Pacific Women's Open and becoming the US Women's Open champion.Lexi Thompson Preparation for this year's Evian Championship could hardly have been better for world No. 2 Lexi Thompson, even if she did require an 11-hour sleep to combat a bout of jetlag.Who will win the 2017 Evian Championship? Have your say on CNN Sport's Facebook page The 23-year-old American has two wins to her name this season, and traveled to France off the back of an encouraging victory at September's inaugural Indy Women in Tech Championship, finishing four shots clear of New Zealand's Lydia Ko. A runner-up behind Ko at Evian-les-Bains in 2015, Thompson looks well-placed to lift the trophy this time around.
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