Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela on pace for career-best major finish at Amundi Evian, the course where her parents first met

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Albane Valenzuela’s roots at the Amundi Evian Championship run deep. Her parents, Alberto and Diane, actually met at an exhibition match at Evian Golf Resort in 1991. The course had recently opened after a renovation and Franck Ribould invited four amateurs to play against four professionals. Alberto, a Mexican, was the reigning French Amateur champion.

Diane, a 10-handicap, was working in the export department for Evian at the time.

Now, more than 30 years later, their eldest child finds herself on the leaderboard at the LPGA major, in a share of 10th after a third-round 64.

“It means the world,” said Albane. “I love this place so much. This was the first major I played as an amateur, and I’m so thankful to Franck and the entire team at Evian for giving me that opportunity back then.”

Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland plays her second shot on the 11th hole on day one of The Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club on July 21, 2022 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Valenzuela, a Stanford grad who was born in New York, plays under the Swiss flag and lived in nearby Geneva until the family moved to the Bahamas several years ago. After missing the cut in four appearances at the Evian on special invites, she finally played the weekend in 2019, ultimately taking a share of 37th.

Valenzuela has posted four top-25 finishes in her last six starts on the LPGA, with her best finish a share of fourth at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. She’s currently 57th in the CME points race. Her best finish in a major so far came as an amateur when she placed 24th at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open.

“You know, it’s funny,” said Valenzuela. “I had a little bit of slap in the face in Hawaii when my ball-striking was incredible and I just couldn’t score. I don’t think I was as happy.

“I think after Palos Verdes I stayed with my college roommates, and just finding that balance again of me, Albane as young woman and me, Albane as golfer are not the same. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

“So it was just kind of just going back to enjoying playing golf. I think I just have a renewed passion for the game. I just love it so much. But I probably love it more than I ever have in its highs and its lows.”

Valenzuela family at the 2019 Evian left to right: Alexis, Diane, Alberto, Albane. (Beth Ann Nichols)

Valenzuela spent two weeks in Paris before heading to her home club in Geneva last week. The time back in Europe has been good for the soul.

“Being back in Switzerland, this is a country I represent, the country I chose to play golf for,” she said, “and I think it’s – I just love coming back here.

“This is really home.”