Olson Leads Evian Championship by 2
September 15, 2018
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France -- Amy Olson has yet to win any tournament on the LPGA Tour, let alone a major championship. But she has seen how it's done. In April, at the first major of the 2018 season, the ANA Inspiration, she was paired in the final group with Pernilla Lindberg, who ended up winning that title in a three-way playoff.
Olson says she learned from that experience, and now she has a chance to put the lesson to use, after shooting a 6-under-par 65 for the second day in a row on Saturday. As a result, she has a 54-hole total of 199 in the last major of the year, The Evian Championship, and she will take a two-stroke lead into Sunday's final round at the Evian Resort Golf Club.
Sei Young Kim posted a 64 and is two strokes behind in second place. Kim claimed her seventh LPGA title in July by shooting a record-setting 31-under-par total at the Thornberry Creek Classic. Mo Martin, a former British Women's Open champion, is third at 203 after a 69. Another three players are tied for fourth at 204, including this year's British Open winner, Georgia Hall. Also at 204 are Inbee Park, a seven-time major champ and former No. 1-ranked player in the world, and Angela Stanford.
Park shot 68 on Saturday. Hall and Stanford both had 67's.
Olson, a former two-time Minnesota PGA Junior Girls winner from Oxbow, N.D., wound up shooting 72 in the round she played with Lindberg on Sunday at the ANA, where she tied for ninth place. But she is confident that the experience of having played under that kind of pressure, and having watched the way Lindberg dealt with it, will help her deal with the pressure she'll undoubtedly be feeling this time on Sunday. Like Olson, Lindberg was looking for her first LPGA title when she won in April.
Nine years ago, Olson -- who was then Amy Anderson (she got married in 2017) -- won the U.S. Girls Junior Championship. She was barely 17 years old at the time, and she started her freshman year at North Dakota State a few weeks later. During her four years at NDSU, Olson won 20 tournaments, thereby breaking the old NCAA Division I record of 17 tournament victories that had been set Julie Inkster while she was at San Jose State (1978-82).
After graduating from college, Olson cruised through the LPGA's Q-School on her first try in 2013. But she struggled in her first years as a professional and had to return to Q-School in 2016, after losing her exempt status. She spent most of the Final Stage of that Q-School on the bubble, but made it through, and although she didn't have a banner year in 2017, she kept her exempt status -- barely. The top 100 finishers on the money list keep remain exempt, and Olson was No. 97 with $112,075 in 22 events.
This year, she doesn't have to worry about that. She's had four top-10 finishes, including the tie for ninth at the ANA, and she's made $259,538 in 19 events. She could move up considerably with a good finish in France. The winner's check this week is $577,500.
On Saturday, she conceded that she was nervous on the first tee -- "That's good. It means I care," she noted -- but a birdie at No. 1 helped to calm her down. She took the lead with an eagle at the 475-yard, par-5 ninth hole, and added three birdies on the back nine, at the 425-yard, par-4 12th, the 210-yard, severely downhill par-3 14th, and the 139-yard, par-3 16th.
Olson noted that part of the fun this week is having her brother Nathan, who is not her normal caddy, on the bag for this event.
"Most of my golf memories do involve him," she said. "Having a sibling be part of it is very special."
Nathan Anderson, who played for the men's golf team at NDSU, is notable for coming up with the two greatest consecutive comebacks in the history of Minnesota golf on his way to the championship of the 2008 Birchmont. In the quarterfinals, he was 3 down with three holes to play at Bemidji's Town & Country Club, but he made birdie putts of 40 feet on two holes in a row and eventually won in 20 holes. He topped that with his comeback in the semifinals, where he was 5 down to Nick Schaefer with five holes to play.
Both Anderson and Schaefer were between their junior and senior years in high school then. Anderson was home-schooled (and so was Amy); Schaefer went to Red River HS, where he was all-state in hockey and golf. In their match, Schaefer could have closed it out with a par at the 14th hole, but he made a bogey. Anderson, having escaped from that predicament, proceded to birdie the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th holes to square things and force a playoff, which he won with a par on the first extra hole.
Nathan then won the Birchmont final with a 4&3 victory over Chad Erickson, giving the Anderson family a double triumph, because Amy had won the Women's Division championship a few hours earlier.
(As for Schaefer, he wasn't finished contending in Bemidji. He won the Birchmont championship in 2015 -- and won it again this year.)
The Evian Championship
At Evian Resort Golf Club
Par 71, 6,523
1. Amy Olson 69-65-65--199
2. Sei Young Kim 69-68-64--201
3. Mo Martin 68-66-69--203
T4. Inbee Park 69-69-67--204
T4. Angela Stanford 72-64-68--204
T4. Georgia Hall 68-68-68--204