EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE | When con-
firmation came last Wednesday that the
Evian Masters would become the LPGA’s
fifth major as of 2013, there were those
who suspected that the Asian players
had to be a little miffed. True, the Evian is
one of the most impressive tournaments
of them all but, with the Koreans having
36 players in the world’s top 100 and the
Japanese 22, how come that the fifth ma-
jor did not have an Asian destination?
Since it would be all wrong were the
Asians to be kept out of the picture for
too much longer, should we expect that
number to go up to six and then seven?
Probably not. A more likely scenario – not
that there was any indication of this from
on high – would be for the LPGA to ship
the LPGA championship out East.
In the meantime, it is impossible to
speak too highly of the Evian. Any tourna-
ment based in a little town and embraced
by its residents – St Andrews, Crans-sur-
of them – including making sweeping
changes to the course – if they could have
It is impossible to speak too highly of the
Evian. Any tournament based in a little
town and embraced by its residents ... is
almost always going to work.
Sierre, Pinehurst and Nairn, home of next
year’s Curtis Cup, are four more like it – is
almost always going to work. You see the
same people on the streets as on the fairways and, in Evian last week, there were
handsome pink banners draped around
greens and lampposts alike. The atmosphere was as good as it gets.
The discussions among Whan, Franck
Riboud, the Evian Masters’ chairman, and
Jacques Bungert, the tournament direc-
tor, had been going on for two years. The
Evian pair had told Whan that they were
prepared to do anything that was asked
Initially, his father had sponsored a
music festival in the town. Riboud Sr.
decided to switch to golf 20 years ago and
started out with a men’s pro-am. When
the men did not hit the mark, he swapped
them for the women – and the company
has stayed with them ever since.
Evian does its best by everyone, including caddies, who for a long time were
treated downright badly at some of the
women’s events on the European Tour. The
Evian chairman remembers a week when
he was caddying for France’s Sandrine
Mendiburu in the UK. At the end of a hard
day, he needed a drink and headed for the
clubhouse. To his irritation, the officials
took one look at this pillar of French society’s caddie-bib and sent him packing.
Since then, he has dreamed up something new for the caddies in Evian each
year, a departure which kicked off with a
football match in 1998. Would you believe
that the caddies who walked on to the
pitch that year found themselves playing
against a side taking in Zinedine Zindane,
a member of that year’s winning French
World Cup side.
Past winners of the Evian will be the
only losers as run-of-the-mill-becomes
major in that they cannot suddenly boast
of having a major in their locker. In which
connection, Laura Davies will feel it more
than most. Apart from having won two Evians too soon, she also captured the British
before that championship was promoted.
Out of deference to the Masters, The
Evian will become “The Evian” as opposed
to the “Evian Masters” – not next year but
as from 2013.
There was a problem here but only in
the matter of arranging an appointment
with the men of Augusta.
“We struggled to explain that we exist
in Evian,” chuckled Riboud. l