The Evian Championship committee has awarded 3 of its 4 wildcards. Amateur hopefuls Leona Maguire (Ireland), world No. 1 Albane Valenzuela (Switzerland) and Mathilda Cappeliez (France) join the field of 120 players who will compete in the 5th Major of the season (10-13 September 2015).
The nominations are consistent with the priorities of Evian Championship, which is increasingly focused on the emergence of young talent and the future of world golf in general.
“All of our decisions are in line with the goal we have set ourselves: help the game of golf grow, expand its markets and increase the number of golfers and therefore lead to the emergence of new champions. ” explains Franck Riboud, Danone Chairman and Chairman of The Evian Championship.
The act of awarding wildcards is part of this drive, bringing top amateurs more into the limelight and giving this young elite the opportunity to perform alongside international champions. A fourth and final wildcard will be awarded after the summer tournaments.
LEONA MAGUIRE – IRISH AMATEUR – AGE 20
An accomplished sportswoman, at the age of 9 Leona Maguire abandoned a promising career as a swimmer to put all her efforts into golf. Just like her twin sister Lisa. Two often inseparable talents now emerging at the top of the global leaderboards. In 2006, they were picked for the Ryder Cup following the European victory at K Club. In 2007, the same year as Jordan Spieth, the famous pair were selected to play in the Evian Masters Juniors Cup at which Leona took the 3rd place on the podium in the individual rankings.
Since 2006, the wins just keep coming, around twenty in all, along with team victories (in particular 2 in the Curtis Cup) and records (the youngest player to win the British Ladies Open Stroke Play Championship in 2011). In 2014, Leona began studying at Duke University in North Carolina. A new distinction now for the university golfer of the year who has taken the top spot in the amateur world rankings.
ALBANE VALENZUELA – SWISS AMATEUR – AGE 17
Albane started hitting golf balls at the age of 3 with her father, a top player on the amateur tour, and it was also on a golf course, the Evian course, that her parents met. All became clear at the age of 7; she wanted to become a professional golfer, like Paula Creamer. Now aged 17, her career seems all mapped out, Albane produces one win after another and showed what she was capable of by winning the Spanish International Stroke Play Championship in May.
Off to a promising start, the young golfer is currently top of the Swiss amateur rankings but for the moment, Albane wants to remain an amateur until she finishes her studies that she will continue at Stanford in 2016, like great golfers before her, in particular Tiger Woods.
MATHILDA CAPPELIEZ – FRENCH AMATEUR – AGE 17
The very young, and determined hopeful of women’s golf in France (59th at the US Open 2014) has set herself the challenge of obtaining her place on the LPGA Tour next year. These ambition-filled words are accompanied by decisive action. She has already excelled at many tournaments (a win at the French Ladies’ Cup aged just 14 and a win at the French International in 2013). The Haut Savoyard player is a perfectionist whose role model is Annika Sorenstam (and at whose Academy in Orlanda, Florida, she has recently chosen to train at). She also admits being greatly inspired by Lydia Ko.
Mathilda Cappeliez has also competed twice in the Evian Championship Juniors Cup (runner-up in 2012, 3rd in 2011) and more recently in the Evian Championship 2015 qualifying event, with the hope of one day taking part in the competition. A dream come true.