Date: September 18, 2017
Author: Mark Hayes

Kirk’s dramatic run just short

Katherine Kirk came up agonisingly short in her quest for a first major championship in France today.

Kirk fired a closing one-under-par 70 to finish eight under and just one shot adrift of a playoff at the Evian Championship, eventually won by Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist in atrocious conditions.

But a 10-second radio news-style summation wouldn’t do Kirk’s bold run justice.

The Queenslander shared the lead at Evians Les Bains with four other women with just three holes to go after superb birdies at the 14th and 15th.

At that point, if you’d told Kirk she’d birdie the last, she’d have been mentally practising her victory speech.

But, just as nerves, rain and a tough closing stretch combined to ruin many other rounds, so, too, did it grab Kirk.

Three putts from huge range on the par-3 16th was followed by a slightly tugged drive up the short par-4 17th and, from the deep, wet rough, Kirk could only manage to leave the ball on the front fringe of a wickedly sloping green.

Three putts later, her dream was effectively over.

In search of a miracle eagle up the testing last hole, the 35-year-old played a stunning long approach inside 2m, then dropped a putt that forced a wry smile when she clearly thought of what might have been.

Still, Kirk’s second best major championship finish, tied third with Lydia Ko and Moriya Jutanugarn, should be a memory of fond emotions as her rounds of 66-69-70 were full of fight and magic moments. She had previously finished second in the 2010 Women's British Open.

Today's playoff, also featuring American Brittany Altomare, was played in driving rain as the Thursday weather that forced the year’s final major to be cut to 54 holes came full circle.

In 40km/h winds and rain that caused puddles within 15 minutes of the heavens opening, Nordqvist won her second career major with a scrambled bogey as the long par-four 18th effectively became a par five.

Nordqvist was seemingly gone with two early bogeys, but peeled off four birdies and two eagles in an 11-hole stretch to roar through the field and only a closing bogey prevented her outright victory in regulation time.

Both Ko and Jutanugarn bogeyed the last to miss the playoff.

Earlier, Melbourne's So Oh recorded her second-best major championship finish with a closing 72 enough for her to finish T14 at two under.

Perth's Minjee Lee and Queenslander Sarah Jane Smith each closed with a 75 to finish one over and three over, respectively.