by Jeff Skinner
The LPGA gets back on the course this week at the soon to be major, Evian Masters. The Evian will officially become the LPGA Tour’s fifth major in 2013 but it pays like a major this year. The Evian and the U.S. Open are tied for the largest purse on tour at $3.25 million with first place taking home $487,500. That will get your attention.
One of the most perplexing questions at The Evian is what kind of game will Yani Tseng bring to the beautiful Evian Golf Club. After dominating women’s golf last year and a good start this year with three wins she hasn’t won in her last seven LPGA starts.
Tseng dominated so much that any blip has large repercussions. And her last three tournaments are a series of big blips: T50 at the U.S. Open, missed cut in Arkansas and T59 at Wegman’s. Compare that to her first eight starts this year: Three wins and when she didn’t win she was in the top ten all five times.
Looking to mix things up Tseng has changed caddies this week and long time, major winning caddie Jason Hamilton has been sent packing and she has hired veteran Basin van Rooyen. Tseng says it’s just an attempt to shake things up. But she won plenty of tournaments with Hamilton. It will be interesting to see if she finds her game.
Trying to keep Tseng from breaking her winless slump will be a very strong field. Ai Miyazato is the defending champion and has two wins this season already. All the top golfers are in France this week and Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen, Cristie Kerr, Lexi Thompson and Na Yeon Choi along with plenty of others will be looking to take home that big check.
Tseng has said that there is plenty of pressure that goes along with being number. In the understatement of the year she said, “It’s pretty hard to be world No. 1.” It won’t get any easier this week.