by Jeff Skinner
The LPGA is back in action this week at The Evian Masters in France and the buzz is that The Evian will be named the “fifth major” very soon. The Evian is one of the more elite tournaments for the LPGA. The Evian awards a purse in the same amount as The U.S. Open, $3.25 million and has long been a favorite of both the LPGA and the Ladies European Tour. That’s what you get when you hand out big checks and play in the breathtaking mountains of France.
The LPGA has been struggling to fill out its tournament schedule and this may be a move that helps that in the long run. Rumor is that the sponsor will sign a multi-year contract, lengthen the course and accept a new date later in the year.
This year three of the four majors are scheduled in a six week period and stretching out the big tournaments makes it easier on the tour to generate more interest an also gives players a breather between majors.
The history of majors on the LPGA Tour has changed over the years and this isn’t the first time the tour changed its “designated” majors. Currently the majors are The Kraft Nabisco Championship, The Wegman’s LPGA Championship, The U.S. Women’s Open and The Ricoh Women’s Open. The British had replaced the du Mauier Classic in 2001. Years ago in the 1970’s and 80’s there were only three majors and in the early 70’s there were only two.
If The LPGA needs a fifth major, the Evian is the one for sure. But I am hoping that this is part of Commissioner Michael Whans’ long term plan to build a stronger LPGA schedule. The tour needs more weekly tournaments not majors. These girls are idle so much they might as well be a member of Congress. More tournaments… should be the rallying cry. If his plan works out, and Whan can bring in more sponsors, fine. If not then he is just diluting the value of the major championships and that would be shameful.