By Andrew Both
(Reuters) – The LPGA Tour is offering no guarantee that 72 holes will be completed when the Evian Championship’s ill-fated September experiment ends at this week’s event in France.
The LPGA cut last year’s tournament to 54 holes due to bad weather at Evian-les-Bains, a decision that was widely criticized as diminishing the status of a designated major.
It was the second time in its five-year September run that the event had been shortened to three rounds.
The LPGA hopes to avoid such a fate when the event reverts next year to its old slot in July, when the weather is generally better with more daylight than in September.
First it must negotiate 2018, though the forecast for showers on Thursday and Friday is less dire than last year when heavy downpours and strong winds caused havoc on the first day.
“Our goal for each event is to complete all scheduled rounds of competition with Monday as an option to complete play,” Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s chief communications and tour operations officer, wrote in an email to Reuters.
But while Mondays are an option they are rarely used as the LPGA is reluctant to play beyond Sunday due to television and sponsor demands.
Defending Evian champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden does not like to see LPGA events shortened.
“I think major championships should be 72 holes, unless there’s certain circumstances where the golf (course) is unplayable,” she said in a conference call last week.
“Given the circumstances last year, there just wasn’t much we could do, but a lot of times Monday finishes are options.
“It doesn’t seem like we have applied them a lot on the LPGA Tour in my years on tour, but given that there are Mondays, I feel like we should keep going if we can, if it’s possible.”
The Evian Championship was designated the fifth women’s major in 2013, a decision some felt diluted the entire major product.
The Evian, which starts on Thursday, will complete a women’s major season in which the spoils have been shared from an international perspective, and which has provided some exciting finishes. The first three were all decided in playoffs.
Swede Pernilla Lindberg won the ANA Inspiration, Thai Ariya Jutanugarn claimed the U.S. Women’s Open, South Korean Park Sung-hyun won the Women’s PGA Championship and England’s Georgia Hall secured the British Women’s Open.
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Ken Ferris/Peter Rutherford)