Minjee Lee begins the defence of her Evian Championship title on Thursday as the sport’s in-form player

The Australian returns to France as this season’s US Women’s Open champion and having soared to number two in the world rankings behind Ko Jin-young of South Korea.

“There was a lot of pressure waiting for the first major after seven years on Tour,” admitted the 26-year-old, who came from seven shots back in the final round to beat Lee Jeongeun in a play-off at the Evian last year.

“But now I am in a very good place, both with my game and my mental state. All the hard work is paying off.

“I’m also delighted by the Australian success. It was great to see Cam (Smith) win the British Open. “I feel fresh coming into this week. I took time off after the Women’s PGA Championship and have just been practising and working on a few things.”

Twelve months ago, Nelly Korda teed it up at Evian as the Women’s PGA Champion, the world number one and favourite for Olympic gold – which she went on to win in Tokyo.

But the 23-year-old was dealt a blow when she suffered a blood clot in her arm back in January.

She has only played four events this season, two of them majors. “Last year is like a blur,” reflected the American who has slipped to number three in the world.

“Now I definitely appreciate being out here a lot more. What I love about sport is the roller coaster. Having to push hard and improve – and then enjoying the good times.

“January seems a long time ago, but the arm is fine now, although I still wear the compression sleeve.”

Korda has never finished higher than 18th at Evian, but she is hoping her lightly raced season could work in her favour.

“Yes, I am feeling very fresh,” she said. “It’s lovely to be back here and I am looking forward to the week.”

Ko, winner of the Women’s World Championship in Singapore in March, is aiming to repeat her 2019 win at Evian.

Chun In-jee (Women’s PGA Championship) and American Jennifer Kupcho (Chevron Championship) join Lee as this season’s major winners.

The fifth and final major is the Women’s British Open at Muirfield in Scotland next month.


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