Monday, July 25, 2011

LPGA Tour bottling Evian as major magic potion?

Golf commissioner Mike Whan recently announced the Evian Masters as the official "fifth major" on the LPGA Tour but, before being awarded "Championship status", a few changes needed to be made.

Unaware that the Evian Masters was already considered a major event on the Ladies European Tour schedule with, perhaps, many more fans (and even Tour players, see below) equally unaware, @LETgolf tweeted, and posted a blog, to confirm status on their Tour first:

"The Evian Masters presented by Société Générale, which is already a major on the Ladies European Tour schedule, will become a major championship on the LPGA from 2013 and will be renamed: ‘The Evian’."

In order for the Evian Masters to be "worthy" of major status and of becoming the new "Dinah" on the LPGA Tour, this is what is said will happen:

1. Name Change to "The Evian Championship"
2. Golf course redesign including the "Fantastic Finish" where fans can watch the final four holes from an amphitheater setting
3. Date Change for flow and so it doesn't interfere with the Women's British Open
Hmmm, perhaps a new crystal Evian bottle as the trophy? Will the ladies be encouraged to learn french?

LET golfers, however, believe that this event already has the Kraft Nabisco "fun factor".

Laura Davies, back-to-back Evian Masters winner in 1995 and 1996, described the tournament as “one of the best events of the year on and off the course.”

Lee-Anne Pace, 2010 LET Henderson Money List leader said: “It seems like it is the ’fun’ unofficial major of the year. People are more relaxed and the atmosphere is great.”

Unofficial? Didn't the LET say the Evian Masters was an "official" major event on their schedule?

Mike Whan stated that the schedule inclusion will give the LPGA something that it has been missing for quite some time, "major media, major fan appeal, a major field..."

"The Evian will be a tournament, a location, and an atmosphere that young women will strive to be part of for the next few decades," Whan continued.

Major disagreement! So far, weekend play only will be viewable on network TV, as are the other majors currently on the schedule; the field is already superior and the championship purse already matches with the U.S. Women's Open winnings.

The idea of a fifth major has come under fire by some and has been welcomed by others. Twitter responses, always short and to the point are always the most telling. Here are a few comments based upon hearing the news of a fifth major.

European Tour golfer Francesco Molinari's thumbs moved quickly after hearing the LPGA's plans: "What's all the noise about ladies fifth major? We have five, too. Everybody knows the Italian Open is the fifth major."

@USPuttingTour tweeted, "Quick. What are the other 4?"

In stark contrast, @crossgolfusa tweeted, "Like it. Golf should rest on tradition but not be constrained by it."

Ideas for an Asian major event, perhaps the HSBC Women's Championship, are also under consideration as the LPGA Tour is now dominated with top-level golfers from Japan to China: Ai Miyazato won the 2011 Evian Masters and Yani Tseng currently holds the number one spot on the LPGA money list.

Six majors? It could happen but would it help or hurt the LPGA Tour?

Senior Travel Editor of Golf Digest and Golf World, Matt Ginella, reflects my personal sentiments in a recent tweet:

"For a tour without a lot of tournaments, they sure have a lot of majors."

Evian bottle

Voice your opinion on Golf4Beginners on Twitter and on Facebook.

Read Golf for Beginners blogs here.


Anonymous said...

I heard lots of people commenting about this topic at the British Womens this week.

I'd actually argue that there are too many majors in the US. The setup should be more like tennis, where there is a balance of events in the US, Europe and Asia. It would be better for the growth of the sport around the world.

And hard to argue with Evian as one of them. Spectacular setting, the biggest prize money in womens golf, and a long-term commitment.

It should be an LET-run event though, unless the LPGA will allow other tours to have events on US soil as well.

Just my .02.

Stacy Solomon said...

I agree on every point. I like the idea of an LET-run major golf tournament and that there are too many majors in the US. I would also conjecture that an Asian-inspired event might gain speed.

Thanks for your comments.