Evian, France: Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and South Korea’s Park Sung-hyun go into the Evian Championship, the fifth and final major of the women’s season, with added incentive to land the title.
The pair have been battling it out for the No.1 spot in the world rankings and they are also one and two in the race for the Annika Major Award, which is given to the leading player in the season’s majors.
Park, the LPGA Champion, dislodged Jutanugarn from the top spot in the world rankings last month. But the Thai golfer just heads her rival in the race for the coveted Annika Award.
"So far it’s been a pretty good season," Jutanugarn modestly suggested.
"I feel I have improved a lot of things in my game. I have been working on my short shots for the past few months and they are definitely getting better. That could be the key this week.
"I came pretty close to claiming the Annika Award two years (she won the 2016 Women’s British Open) and it’s pretty cool thing to win. I’m going to do my best."
Jutanugarn’s best finish was ninth in the Evian in 2016 - but her older sister, Moriya, came close to winning her first major last year when she finished third.
"What I remember is my sister watching me on the golf course," said Moriya, two years older at 24.
"We do a lot together when we are on the Tour. This week we love the food, walking round the lake and eating ice cream every day."
Park collected her first major title at last year’s US Women’s Open and she aims to celebrate her 25th birthday next week by adding a third leg of the Grand Slam.
"I can’t believe it is already the final major of the year," she admitted.
"There is extra pressure playing as the world No.1, and the hardest thing is trying to stay there.
"I haven’t thought as far as completing a Grand Slam - I have only won two majors and there are many more steps to go."
But she has set her sights on the Annika Award. "I was so jealous when Ryu So-yeon won last year. Annika (Sorenstam) was one of my idols growing up when I watched golf on TV. I’m very excited at knowing I have a chance to win it this week."
Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist defends the title - and this will be the last of the Evian Championships in September. Next year, it will move to a date in July.
"It means the majors will be pretty close to each other,” continued Park. There is going to be a lot of pressure and nerves in a short space of time.