The LPGA Tour made the tough decision on Friday to shorten the inaugural Evian Championship, the Tour’s new fifth major, to 54 holes because of torrential rains that have fallen on and continue to threaten the French course.
For those critical of the LPGA’s decision to convert the old Evian Masters into a major championship, the reaction was one of validation, as though the atmosphere was proving them right that a financially motivated decision to concoct a major championship was a bad one.
When the Champions Tour added the Senior British Open to their major docket in 2003, the first edition as the fifth major was a gem. Tom Watson won the Senior British Open in a two-hole playoff against Carl Mason at Turnberry, site of his finest hour in the 1997 Open Championship, the Duel in the Sun with Jack Nicklaus.
Why can’t the LPGA Tour have something as nice for their fifth major? It’s science, not fate.
Besides, there is precedent for a 54-hole major on the LPGA Tour. The 1996 LPGA Championship was reduced to 54 holes. Laura Davies ended up winning at DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del. No one thinks any less of Davies for winning a major that was 54 holes.
And maybe the Evian Championship could be a unique major — not just an add-on — by becoming the first and only major to always be played over 54 holes.
A 54-hole tournament is a unique animal. Just ask Dustin Johnson, the modern-day king of them. Three-round events are shootouts, a race to go as low as possible as quickly as possible. It’s different. It’s exciting.
Having just three rounds to make your bed leaves little time to create massive space between the leaders and the rest of the field. A dominant player will always win, regardless of how many holes are played, but an evenly matched field will almost surely be tightly bunched in the final round, creating a lot of drama and requiring aggressive play.
And for a modern manufactured major, isn’t that exactly what tournament organizers want? They want drama and intrigue, making people forget that this used to be a mere “regular” tournament, deserving of its major moniker.
When the trophy is lifted by the Evian Championship winner on Sunday (or Monday), if there are any complaints from fans or the media, maybe they should go talk to Inbee Park. One of Park’s three major wins in 2013 came at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, which essentially was merged with the former “regular” LPGA event in Rochester, N.Y. Is anyone taking that major from Park?
Didn’t think so.