The Evian Masters presented by Société Générale, which is already a major on the Ladies European Tour schedule, will become a major championship on the LPGA from 2013 and will be renamed: ‘The Evian’.
The event has been part of the Ladies European Tour since 1994 and was given major status on the LET in 1998. In 2000, it became a co-sanctioned event with the LPGA.
The announcement was made at a press conference on Wednesday ahead of the 18th edition of the tournament, taking place at Evian Masters Golf Club from July 21-24, 2011.
The Evian is set to be played the second week of September 2013 and will be the final major of the season following the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wegmans LPGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open conducted by the USGA and Ricoh Women’s British Open.
For many years the Evian Masters has been one of the biggest tournaments in the world, with the joint highest prize fund in women’s golf, at 3.25 million USD. The US Women’s Open raised its purse to keep up with Evian.
The event has always been one of the players’ favourite stops on tour and Laura Davies, who won the Evian Masters in 1995 and 1996, described the tournament as “one of the best events of the year on and off the course.”
Last year’s LET Henderson Money List leader, Lee-Anne Pace, said: “It seems like it is the ’fun’ unofficial major of the year. People are more relaxed and the atmosphere is great.”
Franck Riboud, the Evian Masters chairman and Danone Group chairman and CEO, was delighted to have achieved his ambition.
“This is a fantastic achievement for all those who have supported us, first and foremost the players, our faithful sponsors, and the media,” Riboud said. “For the region, for this golf resort, for the Evian Masters Organisation teams, we are proud to be a part of golf history.”
The Evian Masters Golf Course will be completely re-designed to create a tougher, more strategic test for 2013.
A team of architects led by U.S.-based designer Steve Smyers, who has more than 50 projects spanning the globe, and European Golf Design (EGD) has developed the new layout with input Franck Riboud and the LPGA.
The fifth, currently a par-four, will be re-created into a mid-length par-three, while the final four holes, called the ‘Fantastic Finish,’ will play into, and around, a huge spectator amphitheatre setting, providing a memorable closing stretch for competitors and fans alike. The redesign will be complete in spring 2013. The current course will be played in July 2012.
Virginie Lagoutte-Clement from France was one player who had seen the plans and believed that the new course would provide a grand and difficult test.
Meanwhile World No.1 Yani Tseng said: “It’s a very nice place and I look forward to the new major in 2013. It’s very, very exciting.”
World No.2 Cristie Kerr added: “I think this is very exciting news. When you think about a great tournament and all of the ingredients: this has all of that.”
World No.3, Suzann Pettersen commented: “As a European on this table, I think it’s fantastic. The changes you’ll make will make this become the fifth major. It will be great to finish a full year here in Evian as the last major of the year.”
This year’s tournament gets under way from Thursday to Sunday at Evian Masters Golf Club and will see 111 competitors chase the prize, after a cut has been made to the leading 70 players and those tied after 36 holes.
This year, there are seven former champions in the field, with Jiyai Shin (2011), Laura Davies (1995 and 1996), Ai Miyazato (2010), Natalie Gulbis (2007), Karrie Webb (2006), Paula Creamer (2005) and Juli Inkster (2003).
The current World No.4, Jiyai Shin of South Korea, will defend the title she won 12 months ago, when she edged out Americans Morgan Pressel, Lexi Thompson and fellow Korean Na Yeon Choi with a birdie on the closing hole for a four-round total of 14 under par.