The LPGA's first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, is this weekend. Will the tour's addition of a fifth major in France be good for the sport?
By Melissa Isaacson
There was no good reason for the LPGA not to add the Evian Masters as a fifth major. LPGA commissioner Mike Whan put it simply when he said it makes sense for three reasons.
Like the four other majors, the Evian, Whan said, had "a sponsor, a venue and an opportunity."
Evian has stepped up with a $3.2 million purse. The players have always liked the beautiful French backdrop of the Evian Masters, and the course is being redesigned to major championship-caliber. It also fits into the schedule the second week of September.
The tradition argument doesn't hold up as the tour has, at various times, existed with two, three and (since 2001) its current four majors. Why add a fifth major to the LPGA schedule? The best answer is why not?
By Mechelle Voepel
The reality is that the LPGA has changed its major-tournament designations so much during the evolution of the tour, one more change isn't going to hurt anything.
You pretty much need an advanced degree in LPGA history to correctly name all eight tournaments that either once were or are now majors.
A lot of people don't remember when the Western Open and the Titleholders even existed, let alone that that they were majors. The du Maurier in Canada was a major while it existed and even a lot of golf fans forgot about it. And many folks probably now think the Women's British Open is a longtime major -- when, in fact, it wasn't designated as such until 2001.
The Evian in France has been one of the top purses on the LPGA Tour for a while; it's been paying out major money even when it wasn't a major. And with the global nature of the tour now, having two majors away from the United States isn't a bad thing.
Five majors overall may seem weird because it's no longer the number you associate with a Grand Slam. But, again, the LPGA's major format is not hallowed ground. And the bottom line is, the most important championship for the LPGA remains unchanged: the U.S. Women's Open, which dates back to 1946.
By Michelle Smith
A fifth major overseas simply can't be bad for a sport that is slowly drifting on the map of the sports landscape. It's another opportunity to feature players in a top-tier event, another opportunity to market the sport in the European market, which is much more open to the non-meat-and-potatoes sports than U.S. sports fans.
In some sports, adding "majors" might water down the competition, but that doesn't seem possible in the LPGA, which has already been watered down without marquee names or events that draw sponsor and TV interest.
Trying something new might not be the answer, but it certainly couldn't hurt an already-hurting tour.
By Sarah Spain
A major in France? I can picture it now: Warm, buttery croissants at the clubhouse before the start, wine tastings at every hole, fresh brie and baguettes at the turn, champagne Gatorade baths for the winner. ... OK, perhaps I'm getting a little carried away.
This much is true -- the Evian Masters is played on a gorgeous course with views overlooking the Alps and Lake Geneva. Fans might tune into the event purely to drool over the course and get lost in a croissant-and-champagne daydream of their own. Plus, right now the Ricoh Women's British Open in July is the last major. The Evian will take place in September, lengthening the LPGA's prime-time season and keeping fans interested longer.
The $3.25 million purse is also tied for the richest purse on the tour, so it's already viewed by players as one of the most important events of the season. Switching from four majors to five may seem a risky move, but the LPGA needs a shake-up. I say Vive La France.