Wins her second career major title while rookie Sophia Schubert finishes second overall
There is a saying in golf that great golfers find a way to win with their “B – Game”, meaning for those times when they simply are not playing their best golf. That is a case of what happened for Brooke Henderson today in the final round of the 2022 Amundi Evian Championship. Yet, despite not having her best game, she managed to make some clutch putts to save par and make some birdies when she needed them.
“Yeah, definitely not the best today. But, just tried to stay patient, and kept reminding myself that I was still in it and that I just needed some birdies, a little bit of momentum change to stay in it. I made some clutch putts and shots down the stretch, which really helped. I'm just super excited to have my second major championship win –12 wins on tour is pretty cool, too.”
Starting the day with a two-shot lead over So Yeon Ryu, Henderson proceeded to stripe her opening tee shot, finding the middle of the fairway. Playing an 8-iron approach shot, she pulled out of her swing early, flaring the ball to the right edge of the green – leaving her squarely in 3-putt territory. Meanwhile, So Yeon Ryu’s approach shot landed in the centre of the green, catching the ridge, trickling down the slope towards the pin giving her a serious look at birdie.
Playing first, Henderson’s putt came up short and to the right, leaving her a lengthy putt for par. Ryu then stepped up and sank her putt for a birdie – 3 and Henderson’s lead was down to one. Despite a nice positive stroke, Henderson’s par putt just slid past the left edge of the cup. She tapped the ball in for bogey, and just like that her two-shot lead was gone. On Saturday’s round, Henderson also started with a bogey on her first hole, but managed to regroup and shoot a sore of 68 for the round. That would not happen today – Henderson’s 3-putt misadventure set the tone.
Her disastrous front nine reached bottom on the par-4, 6th hole, finding herself in a fairway bunker off the tee. She struck her approach shot fairly well, but it came up a little short, settling on the front right of the green with the pin being tucked in the back right with a large undulation between them to navigate.
Henderson elected to play a putt that would trickle down the undulation to the hole. The ball was struck rather meekly, instead coming up short of the hole. From there, she took two more strokes to hole out for a double bogey six. She had 4-putted, a dubious distinction that haunts anyone that has played golf. Ironically, her 4-putt came just one hole after So Yeon Ryu 4-putted the par-3, 5th. Perhaps the golf gods were displeased.
Henderson demonstrated some resiliency by making four good shots on the very next hole – the par 5, 7th hole for a bounce back birdie. After several pars in a row, it was the par-4, 11th hole where Henderson again bogeyed, dropping her down the leaderboard again. Then came a moment of personal reckoning for her as she acknowledged that she needed to kickstart her game with 7-holes remaining and fight harder for victory.
“When I was 3-over through 11 holes I guess it was kind of like, ‘okay, if I want to be at the top of the leaderboard again and if I want to contend, I really need to get it in gear here and hit as many good shots as I can and get as many birdie looks coming down the stretch’. To make three of those in the last five holes or so was really big. It felt really nice to have the patience kind of pay off and then to make the comeback.”
While So Yeon Ryu was struggling to put together a good round of golf, having started the day with 5-6 shot lead over players like Sei Young Kim, Jin Young Ko, Nelly Korda, and Hyo Joo Kim – all major winners, proved to be a blessing for Henderson as none of those players could mount a sustained challenge either. At the end of the day, the Canadian was able to record 3-birdies over the last 5-holes to pull out the win, shooting an even par 71 on the day – good enough for a 1-stroke lead over rookie Sophia Schubert.
“It was definitely an interesting day. Not the start that I wanted, but I stayed pretty patient, as patient as I could under those circumstances. Then going into the back nine, you know, the saying is that majors are won on the back nine on Sunday, so I just tried to keep that frame of mind, and knew I was still in it if I could have a solid back. I was able to make a few birdies, which was nice, and obviously to make the birdie on 18, that makes it feel really nice.”
Sophia Schubert / -16 under & solo 2nd Place
While there were plenty of expectations for Henderson there were little to none for Schubert, save for her own. With the benefit of being able to play unburdened by such expectations and pressure, Sophie Schubert was left alone to focus on golf – and that she did. The LPGA rookie opened with a 69 (-2 under) and a 65 (-6 under) on the opening days of the event. Saturday, she dropped a score 66 (-5 under) to vault herself into sole possession of 3rd spot and a place in the penultimate group for today’s round.
Today’s round started off with an early bogey on the par-3, 2nd hole that dropped her to -12 for the event. Unlike Henderson, Schubert was able to regroup and get her round back on track, recording a birdie on the par-4, 6th hole to go out in an even par 35. On the second nine, Schubert was able to take advantage of some good ball-striking, recording three birdies within a 5-hole stretch, starting with the par-4, 11th hole thru to the par-5, 15th to get herself to -16 under for the tournament.
Then on the par-5, 18th hole, Schubert found herself with a third shot of 100 yards to the pin where she calmly stuffed the ball to within 7 feet of the pin. For Schubert, who was tied for the lead at -16 under with Henderson, she now had a realistic birdie opportunity to finish at -17 under and sole lead of the event. While her putt was stroked well, the ball just missed the left edge of the hole, stopping inches away. And as Henderson’s birdie putt on 18 dropped into the hole for the win, Schubert found herself wanting to cry, not of sadness, but of joy and happiness for her accomplishment.
“You know, I want to cry tears of happiness. I’m proud of myself, proud of everyone that’s helped me get to this point. It came short, but I know that I’ll be back, so I’m really happy.”
On the week, Schubert’s play was steady, and generally, unremarkable. That is a positive for her in that she knows that she just played within herself, focused on her game, and she didn’t need to play spectacularly in order to contend at a major championship. Her play improved this week, but not excessively, it was more of a slight improvement, but it was enough to elevate her on the leaderboard for that is how fine the margins are in professional golf. It was something that she has been preparing and working for, explaining her ability to elevate her game this week as having unconditional support from home, trusting her process, and tinkering with her clubs.
“I have a lot of support back home and they’ve been telling me over and over again, ‘you can do this. Just be confident.’ (Secondly) I fixed my clubs a little bit. The lofts and lies, I fixed those a few weeks ago and (am) just hitting the ball straighter. And lastly, I’m trusting the process.”
Schubert is not in the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, nor the AIG Women’s (British) Open, but she will attempt to Monday qualify for the AIG event in Muirfield. There remains the possibility that Schubert could be an "invite" into the AIG Women's Open. Brooke Henderson will be in action next at the AIG Women's Open.