For the second time in five years since The Evian Championship became the LPGA’s fifth major, the France-based event will be a 54-hole affair.
With golfers on the course already, the LPGA called the first round at Evian Resort Golf Club on Thursday afternoon, also announcing that the already-recorded scores would be wiped out and the tournament begun anew on Friday morning. Play began at 1:45 a.m. ET and was first suspended at 4:04 a.m. ET. So Yeon Ryu and Jessica Korda shared the lead at 2 under.
Yeah, I'm super pumped about it. https://t.co/69VK5eCqPU
— Jessica Korda (@Thejessicakorda) September 14, 2017
Sung Hyun Park, the reigning U.S. Women’s Open champ, was 6 over through five holes and is likely thrilled at the reprieve.
Tee times for Thursday and Friday will now apply to Friday and Saturday, and Sunday’s final round will be a one-day affair with the weekend field vying for the championship.
“While we did not make this decision lightly, we believe that this is the right decision,” LPGA commissioner Mike Whan said in a statement. “We are happy and encouraged with how well the golf course is handling the weather, and it should set up for another amazing Evian finish.”
This happened in 2013, the first year the event carried a major designation, as well, with Suzann Pettersen winning in the end.
The blowback to the LPGA’s decision from most pockets in golf was swift. Most responded in the negative, saying scores should never be pulled off the board in a major championship, as well that a major championship, much less one so recently bequeathed this designation, should not have again been reduced to 54 holes.
“We know that if we said 72 holes and we start again tomorrow (Friday), we’re probably looking at Monday and Tuesday, and that’s not great for anyone,” Whan said.
Major championships are 72-hole affairs, and they should be carried out as such, including to a Monday or, perhaps unprecedented, Tuesday finish. With the amount of money and prestige at stake in France, the LPGA would have been better served canning play on Thursday and immediately calling for a planned Monday finish. Majors should go the distance. There is also no scheduled LPGA event next week, so the threat of extending to Monday isn’t meaningful from a logistics standpoint.
The Evian began on dicey ground in 2013, basically getting the major nod at Evian’s behest. The event was lambasted for the 54-hole finish in 2013, and it was raked over the coals for giving up a 61 on 2014 on a course littered with ground under repair. In Gee Chun won this title last year at 21 under par, a record-low total for any major anywhere.
Stacy Lewis made a decision early in the year to not even bother playing Evian, choosing to focus on spending more time at home. Will more players consider the same next year?