|Last year’s Evian Masters winner, Karrie Webb|
(Evian-les-Bains, France – Wednesday 25th July 2007) — The world’s greatest women golfers have admitted they cannot wait to get started on the new-look Evian Masters, which begins tomorrow (THURS) at Evian Royal Resort, France.
The event, co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and the Ladies Professional Golf Association, has introduced a second-day cut for the 14th edition of the tournament and increased the field to 90 players – though little has changed about the players’ affection for the venue.
Defending champion Karrie Webb, the current World Number Two behind Mexico’s Lorena Ochoa, was particularly enthusiastic about her return to the scenic course.
“It’s always great to be back at Evian, I think it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world and probably the most beautiful place that I’ve ever played in my career,” said the Australian. “Obviously to come back as defending champion is a great feeling.”
Webb begins the defense of her title with a mouth-watering pairing involving Rolex World number one Lorena Ochoa and rising star Natalie Gulbis.
The trio will be followed out by an equally-exciting trio comprising American teen Michelle Wie, fellow American Morgan Pressel, and KLM Ladies Open winner Gwladys Nocera.
Wie, 17, hopes that the course that once played host to one of her finest hours in professional golf will spark a return to form. She has not broken par in a professional tournament since finishing tied for second at the Evian Masters last year but she said: “I feel like I’m back at home. This is already my fourth year here, and it just feels really welcoming.
“When I was playing last year, my game was consistent, and I feel like my putting and my short game I’m gaining a lot more shots on.”
Wie’s appearance at Evian comes amid a year blighted by a series of wrist injuries. But she insists she is ready to play.
“I feel like I’m getting better and better,” she said. “Unfortunately, I got sidetracked this year with my injury, but I feel like what doesn’t kill me is going to make me stronger, and hopefully this will make me a stronger mentally and physically.”
England’s Laura Davies, the 2006 New Star Money List leader and a two-time Evian Masters champion, tied for second with Wie at Evian last year and is returning to France as one of the favourites. Sweden’s Annika Sorenstam, the current World Number Three, will compete alongside Davies and home-grown talent Patricia Meunier-Lebouc.
Sorenstam, the 2000 and 2002 Evian Masters champion, says she is happy to be back in Evian, despite some alterations to the format.
“It seems like every year there are changes to the tournament, and I think they’re for the better,” she said.
“Today (WEDS) we had the Pro Am, and normally we have it at the end of the week, and this helps a lot of players.
“I’m one of them that’s had trouble in the past getting here and getting all your luggage, and when you have such a big event, you want to make sure that you’re 100 percent prepared. So I definitely think there have been good changes.”
Sorenstam was adamant that the contest will be stronger than ever.
“By increasing the field, it’s still exclusive because it’s not a full field. But it’s got more players here and probably the standard of golf is higher,” she said. “When you have an event like that you should have the top players here.”
A share of the $3million prize pot is not the only thing at stake at Evian. With The Solheim Cup set to take place in September, the US and European players alike are rallying for their respective team’s Solheim Cup points.
With fine weather predicted throughout the week, organisers, players and spectators are expecting nothing to come between them and one of the greatest tournaments on the golfing calendar.