Ko grouped with fellow Evian winners in France


Rolex world No. 1 Lydia Ko will be grouped among the last three winners of the Evian Championship when she begins defense of her title Thursday in France in the year’s final major championship.

Golf Channel is televising the event from 5 to 8 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday. Both Golf Channel and NBC have weekend coverage.

The featured groupings in the first two rounds (all times ET) include:

7:20 a.m., Thursday; 2:40 a.m., Friday: Ko, Suzann Pettersen and Hyo Joo Kim

Ko won the Evian Championship with a brilliant final-round 63 a year ago, becoming the youngest winner of a major at 18 years, 4 months and 20 days old. Kim won Evian in 2014 and Pettersen in ’13.

2:18 a.m., Thursday; 6:58 a.m., Friday: Ariya Jutanugarn, In Gee Chun and Julia Engstrom

Jutanugarn is seeking to win a tour best sixth LPGA title this year and back-to-back majors. She won the Ricoh Women’s British Open for her first major in July. Chun is seeking to make her second LPGA title another major. She won the U.S. Women’s Open last year. Engstrom, a Swedish amateur, became the youngest winner of the Ladies British Amateur at 15 back in June.

6:58 a.m. Thursday, 2:18 a.m. Friday: Brooke Henderson, Brittany Lang, Eun Jeong Seong

Henderson broke through to win her first major at the KPMG Women’s PGA in June. Lang broke through to win her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open in July. Seong is just 16, but this year she became the first player to win the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur in the same year. She also won the U.S. Girls’ Junior last year.

7:42 a.m., Thursday; 3:02 a.m., Friday: Lexi Thompson, Shanshan Feng and Sung Hyun Park

Thompson lost a final-round duel to Ko at Evian a year ago, but her game is well suited to Evian. Thompson has finished second twice in the event and third one time. Feng is looking to ride some Olympic momentum after winning the bronze medal in Rio. Park is the dominant player on the Korean LPGA this year, with seven titles. She is an even longer hitter than Thompson and made a run at winning the U.S. Women’s Open before finishing T-3.

7:31 a.m., Thursday; 2:51 a.m., Friday: Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller and Amy Yang

Lewis has played well this year, amassing eight top-10 finishes, including three more second-place finishes, but she’s still looking for her elusive 12th LPGA title, her first since June of 2014. She’s a two-time major champion. Piller has been knocking on the door to her first LPGA title with a strong run of close calls this year. Yang hasn’t won a major yet but has piled up eight finishes of T-5 or better in majors.