EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France – Angela Stanford ended her long wait for a first major title when her 3-under 68 was enough to win the Evian Championship by one shot Sunday after long-time leader Amy Olson made double-bogey on the 18th.
At age 40, and 15 years after she was runner-up at the U.S. Women’s Open, Stanford’s wild final few holes gave her a 12-under total of 272.
Olson missed a six-foot putt for bogey on the 18th to force a playoff, while Stanford waited near the green signing autographs for dozens of young spectators.
Stanford, who got the last of her five LPGA Tour titles in 2012, put her hands to her mouth on hearing she had won, and was in tears during television interviews.
Stanford earned a $577,500 check for making her 14th career top-10 finish in majors a winning one.
Olson carded a 74 to fall into a four-way tie for second place with fellow Americans Austin Ernst (68) and Mo Martin (70), and Sei Young Kim (72). Martin barely missed with a birdie chance on the 18th to face Stanford in a playoff.
Canada’s Brooke Henderson finished in a tie for 10th at 8 under. The 21-year-old from Smiths Falls, Ont., shot a 3-under 68 to rebound from a 1 over on Saturday. Alena Sharp of Hamilton closed with an even-par 71 and tied for 37th, while Brittany Marchand of Orangeville, Ont., tied for 49th at 3 over.
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After Olson was outright or joint leader all day – briefly with Stanford at 13 under with four holes to play – she three-putted to end her championship with a career-best result.
“It’s disappointing to finish like that,” said the 26-year-old Olson, whose previous best finish in an LPGA event was tied for seventh in 2014.
Playing in the second-last group, Stanford went eagle-double bogey-birdie from the 15th, then saw her birdie chance brush the hole on No. 18.
She crouched with her hands on her head, tapped in for par, then went to sign autographs out of sight of the playing area.
Seeking a first LPGA title, Olson teed off two shots ahead of Kim and then gave one back at the par-3 2nd hole.
The leaderboard changed little on the front nine until Olson made bogey at the par-3 8th. She stayed as joint leader with Kim on 13 under – three shots clear – only when Kim’s putt from off the same green hit the pin and stayed out.
Olson’s two-shot lead was soon restored after Kim’s double bogey 6 at the 10th. She padded her lead to three with a tap-in for birdie at the par-5 13th.
Two more Americans, Stanford and Ernst, joined Kim three behind Olson, who let a good chance slip at the par-5 15th after her short approach chip to the green was weak.
In a wild ride for Stanford, she joined Olson on 13-under after making eagle at the 15th, then gave back both shots at the par-3 16th. Soon, Stanford punched the air with her right fist when sinking a 25-footer for birdie on 17th.
Olson went to the 17th tee with a one-shot lead on 13 under as Ernst set a clubhouse target of 11 under. Her bogey-free 68 saw several putts lip out.
Refusing to check the leaderboard all day, Olson said she only knew on the 18th tee where she stood. A par 4 would win, but she hooked her tee shot into the rough, and her third-shot approach was well below the pin. A par putt for victory raced past.