Is it or isn’t it? Since 2013 the LPGA says ‘yes’ but for many in the golf world the answer remains ‘no’ when it comes to the Evian Championship and its major status.
The Evian has officially been part of the Grand Slam family for six years but, as is always the way with these things, it is the fans who determine the true status of an event, not administrators.
Like The Players Championship on the PGA Tour there is no question the tournament is one of the most important of the year. But a major? Not quite.
When LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan announced in 2011 that the Evian would enjoy elevated standing from 2013 many wondered if it was even possible for such importance to simply be bestowed on a tournament.
If it was, surely Tim Finchem would have said so about The Players two decades ago?
But the reality is that the game’s most important events are not announced, they evolve.
The Masters is The Masters because of the involvement of Bobby Jones and the Augusta National layout, The Open and US Open are national championships and the PGA boasts the best field of them all.
But The Evian? It has the purse – at US$4.1million to be the fourth biggest in the women’s game – and the field but comes up short in almost every other way.
“The Evian has officially been part of the Grand Slam family for six years but, as is always the way with these things, it is the fans who determine the true status of an event, not administrators.”
In golf terms it is an infant at just 25 years old and has only been sanctioned by the LPGA since 2000.
It boasts an impressive list of champions since the turn of the century but with a limited field until 2011 (78 until 2007 and 90 between 2007 and 2010) that’s a somewhat skewed statistic.
The Evian Golf Resort course occupies a stunning site overlooking Lake Geneva but has little to recommend it in terms of architectural merit.
And given the remote location it is unlikely to ever attract substantial crowds.
The organisers of The Evian are to be applauded for their commitment to the women’s game and their significant financial investment in it for the past quarter of a century.
It has been no small feat to take the tournament from a fledgling Ladies European Tour event to a big-time LPGA tournament that attracts all the world’s best players.
But golf fans demand and deserve more from the game’s majors than good intentions and deep pockets.
The record books say Jin Young Ko is now a two-time major winner and it is the history books (and cheques) that players tee up for.
And perhaps one day The Evian will evolve into one of the most important tournaments in the game in the eyes of everyone in the golf world.
But for the moment the truth remains that it feels like a major that has simply been bought and is superior to a regular event in name only.
And until that changes, the record books will have it technically right though somehow still wrong.
Rod Morri is founder of the TalkinGolf Podcast Network, home of the State of the Game, iSeekGolf, TalkinGolf History and Feed The Ball podcasts.
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