|View of the fifth hole at the Evian Resort Golf Course|
First-round play at the Evian Championship was suspended on Thursday morning due to unplayable course conditions. Play is scheduled to restart at 7:45 a.m. local time on Friday morning and all scores from Thursday have been erased.
Rain forced first-round tee times to originally be delayed two hours and the first shot of the inaugural Evian Championship was struck at 9:45 a.m. local time. At 10:30 a.m. play was suspended due to rain saturating an already wet golf course, making conditions unplayable.
Nearly four inches of rain have fallen on the Evian Resort Golf Club since Saturday. The rain combined with unusually hot weather during the month of August has put a lot of stress on a newly renovated golf course.
While officials had hoped to resume play at some point on Thursday, play was suspended for the day at noon local time. A total of 15 players were on the golf course when play was halted but the decision was made to scratch those scores and restart the first round on Friday morning.
“It was pretty wet; I think we’ve just had too much rain and it came down harder than we thought it would,” said Cindy LaCrosse, who was leading at 1-under through one hole when play was suspended. “The greens just couldn’t hold that much water and the right decision was made, unfortunately for me. Hopefully tomorrow is better.”
First and second-round pairings will remain the same. A cut to the leading 70 players plus ties will be made at the conclusion of the second round on Saturday and officials intend to complete both the third and fourth rounds (36 holes) on Sunday.
|A green keeper at work on Thursday morning|
An interview with Heather Daly Donofrio
LPGA Senior Vice President of Tour Operations
MIKE SCANLAN: The first round will restart with scores wiped out on Friday morning. Heather can provide a little bit of insight on how that decision was made it.
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: First of all, welcome everybody. Thank you for coming in and being patient with us as we worked through the morning rounds. We have had nearly four inches of rain since Saturday that have fallen. The golf course is extremely saturated at this point.
It was clear when competitors were out this morning that’s conditions weren’t conducive to a fair and equitable competition, so the plan to scratch all those scores from today, to have all players restart the first round tomorrow. We will play the second round, same tee times as would have been Friday on Saturday, and the goal will be to play 36 holes to complete the championship on Sunday.
That’s the current plan.
MIKE SCANLAN: And to be clear, not an unprecedented situation certainly in 2013. At the Wegman’s LPGA Championship we played 36 holes on Sunday; at the Ricoh Women’s British Open we played 36 holes on Sunday. So this will be the third major of the season.
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO, you’ve been here five times in the last 12 months working on the course with the LPGA and the designers. What can you tell us about the process of getting the course ready and some of the weather hit over the summer that may have helped lead to this decision today.
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: Most of you know the story of the golf course. It was rebuilt under extreme conditions this winter. I’ve been here under the snow with the workers. I think every time I came in, either snow, rain, sleet, I think we even had some hail as well.
And then we had extremely high temperatures in August. The goal was to play the golf course firm and fast ideally with the redesign. The course was in very good shape heading into the last couple of weeks, but the high temperatures really compacted the soil on the new course.
With the excessive rain that we’ve had this week, the course is not able to absorb all the water. At the moment, it’s saturated to the point that even if we get a few specific sprinkles, the water is coming up. We had the situation today where we would squeegee at path for the player to putt and the water would come back up before they could execute their shot.
And I’m not even so sure that this wouldn’t have happened on the course last year. That’s how much rain we’ve had in the last few days. It’s just very difficult for the course to accept all the water.
Q. HEATHER DAY‑DONOFRIO, all that is good, for the 36 holes on Sunday, but the forecast or Sunday is awful.
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: Yea, we are watching the forecast for Sunday. We do have some options. Obviously the goal is this is a major championship, first year of Evian being a major championship, and the goal will be to complete 72 holes.
We will continue to watch the forecast over the next couple days. Forecasts can change. We’re hoping we can play 36 on Sunday, but Monday could also be an option.
Q. What’s the latest we can play? Is Tuesday potential? How long could you play for?
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: That’s a good question. Right now we’re looking at Monday. I don’t think we’ve ever been in a situation where we’ve had to go to a Tuesday. That would be new territory for us.
I am hopeful we can get 72 holes in.
Q. What time are you hoping to finish on Sunday, all going to plan?
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: We can play until about 7:30, 7:45 depending on conditions. If it’s cloudy, maybe 7:30; if it’s clear, 7:45. We have a good 12, 15 hours of daylight. We can.
As Mike referenced, we have done this twice already this year at major championships. The crew is used to it. The players, it’s becoming more the norm this year for the players.
They’ve been used to playing 36 two other times at Wegman’s and at Ricoh. I think we’ve got a good plan in place.
MIKE SCANLAN: can you just talk about the efforts the maintenance crew have put in over the past few months and certainly this week?
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: Yeah. It’s unreal the amount of work that has been done in a short period of time. I have to tell you, when I was here in January I was thinking, How is this ever going to be a golf course come September? They essentially built it from scratch.
The crews here have worked, many men ‑ and actually two women on the crew; I would like to say that ‑ who worked all winter on the golf course just getting this course in shape to play a major championship.
They’re working 24/7 the groundscrew here. They’re squeegeeing greens constantly, working on the bunkers. John and his staff have done a tremendous job to get golf course in the shape that it’s in now to put on the best possible major championship for Evian and the players.
Q. What kind of feedback have you had from the players about the course?
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: You know, in golf, the one thing you can’t control is the weather. I think our players are all professionals and they know this. They have been in and out all year for poor weather. The LET players were joking in the locker room today that they have had so many tournaments that were delayed or canceled for rain this year.
So it goes with being a professional. They’re accustomed to going in and out for weather delays and they handle it the best they can.
Q. And the course itself, the way it’s not retaining the water…
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: No, I mean, it’s just a fact. They’re just expressing what we can all can see out there. It’s saturated and not a lot of room to move the ball for casual water out there right now.
I think it’s disappointing. We would love to be out there playing golf today obviously. The players understand that it’s the reality of the situation, and there is nothing any of us can do about it. We’re looking forward playing tomorrow.
Q. It can change, but what’s the forecast for the next three days? And will there be lift, clean and place?
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: The forecast for tomorrow and Saturday is clear as of now, so we’re hoping ‑‑ and even for this afternoon we’re not anticipating getting much rain. There might be a few showers that come through. We need to give the course a chance to heal and the water to recede.
The forecast is looking quite good for tomorrow and Saturday. For Sunday there is rain in the forecast. We’re hoping that might change. And yes, and fairway only.
Q. If Sunday rains, 36 holes on Monday?
HEATHER DALY‑DONOFRIO: That’s a possibly. If we get to that point, we’ll gather all the tournament organizers and Evian and the commissioner and all the sponsors and the rules staff and that’s something that we’ll talk about. The goal is to play 72 holes.