LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan sat down with the press today in Évian-les-Bains to talk about the details of the newest event on tour. The Evian Masters will become a major starting September 2013, which will make it the last one of the season.
During the announcement, Whan was joined by Franck Riboud, Chairman and CEO of Groupe Danone, Jacques Bungert, tournament director, and LPGA tour members Yani Tseng, Cristie Kerr, Suzann Pettersen and Karrie Webb.
"This must be one of the worst secrets kept ever," said Whan before explaining how and why this tourney accomplished majorship. "They (Riboud and Bungert) have a dream, a vision, the passion and the guts... in 2013 you'll return to a new course, to a new time of the year and to a new tournament: The Evian Championship."
Riboud remembered how this tourney started 18 years ago, as "a small pro-am and with lots of French players", but it grew fast and the Ladies European Tour embraced it quickly, soon the LPGA co-sanctioned it and the rest is history, players just love it.
"To have the support of such a worldwide company of Evian, and Danone, the LPGA couldn't be luckier, for 18 years you've made this tournament bigger and better," acknowledged Karrie Webb who won this event in 2006.
For Suzann Pettersen, having a second major championship in Europe is "absolutely fantastic."
This decision includes some adjustments to the course so that players find it challenging, at least that's what Commissioner Whan promised. All the holes will be remodeled somehow, but 5, 15, 16, 17 and 18 will be brand new.
This will also become a reward for spectators because "they'll be able to watch four holes in the same position, the closing amphitheater that we already have will be majored, so to speak," said Whan.
In order to do so without getting in the way of next year's Evian Masters and the members' privileges all work will be done in the winter; during the rest of the year it'll be done within small areas and with soil from the lake, in order to preserve as much as possible the environment, in words of Franck Riboud "this will be a organic and environmental friendly course."
And in case you're wondering if this has anything to do with the Kraft Nabisco Championship not returning in 2013, Whan assured "this has no hidden agenda, the Nabisco isn't going anywhere."
So that's it, five majors for the LPGA starting in 2013, now the question is: Will the tour get new tournaments for the rest of the season or will it survive with what it has?
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