LPGA 2014 Evian Championship Preview & TV Schedule


Apr 6, 2014; Rancho Mirage, CA, USA; Michelle Wie chips to the green on the fourth hole in the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship golf tournament at Mission Hills Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The 20th edition of the Evian Championship, the 5th and final major on the LPGA Tour, began today with the first of 3 “player training sessions” at Evian-les-Bain for the players whose golf bags successfully transited the Atlantic.  The Evian brings together 120 players representing the best in women’s golf to compete for a $3.25 million purse in a 4-day, 72-hole stroke play contest on the par-71, 6453-yard Evian Masters Golf Club track that winds its way through the breathtakingly beautiful and heartachingly challenging French Alps.

The Evian Masters Golf Club

Players and fans alike will find a number of innovations and improvements at Evian.  All of the tee boxes have been modified and the fairways reworked. The greens will be defended by a greater number of more ambitious hazards, in particular by lakes that have been newly created or increased tenfold in size, and also by numerous deeper bunkers that been repositioned all over the course.

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In keeping with golf course management trends we saw during the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2, the Evian Resort has adopted a number of eco-sustainable practices, including innovative water management and the use of organic fertilizers, that have enhanced the Evian Championship playing field.

As at Pinehurst, in North Carolina, and at Poppy Hills, in California, the Evian rough is being allowed to return to a more natural environment.  If they should stray from the short grass players will now cope with “spontaneous vegetation” (French for weeds) allowed to flourish and protect indigenous fauna, particularly water and marsh frogs.

The Field

Defending champion Suzann Pettersen will lead a full field of world-class golfers intent on ensuring that she doesn’t nail back-to-back victories.  Lydia Ko‘s at the top of my list of Pettersen’s most likely challengers.

Lydia Ko.

Then a 16-year old amateur, Ko played a hard runner-up game at the 2013 Evian, losing to Pettersen by 2 shots.  Now a pro and enjoying a stunningly successful rookie year on the LPGA Tour, Ko’s on the hunt for her first Major victory.  The Evian’s her last chance to get that win on her rookie resume.  She’s going to play flat-out for the victory.

Stacy Lewis and Michelle Wie are also going to be playing flat-out this week and they both have the game in their bag to snatch a 2nd Evian victory from Pettersen.  World ranked no. 1 Lewis, coming in with 14 top-10s this year, 3 of them victories, wants a Major win badly.  She needs it to put her in contention for the Annika Award.

Wie, world ranked no. 6, is playing the best golf of her career.  She’s recorded ten top-10s, 2 of them wins and including the US Women’s Open, which automatically puts her ahead of Lewis in the Annika Award race.  I’m looking for them to both Lewis and Wie to bring strong games to the Evian.

Lizette Salas

I’m going to keep three 2014 breakthrough players on my early watch list: Mirim Lee, who played Inbee Park to a sudden death defeat at the Meijer LPGA Classic in August; Lizette Salas, whose fine game has taken her close many times and then, in May at the Kingsmill Championship, took her to the top of the board; and Austin Ernst, who almost gave away the Portland Classic to IK Kim last week in the final two holes and then, with an unbelievable demonstration of focus and control, snatched it back in a sudden death playoff.

In addition to Lydia Ko and Mirim Lee, who have already recorded 2014 victories, there are six more LPGA rookies in the Evian field: Amy AndersonJaye Marie GreenKim Kaufman, Joanna KlattenXi Yu Lin and Line Videl.  They’ve all been playing impressive games this season and I’ll be interested to see how they do in this Major.  I’m looking for Klatten, Lin and Videl to make it to the weekend.

Media Coverage

Golf Channel and NBC will provide coverage of all four rounds of the Evian Championship.  Golf Channel, Thursday, September 11, 7:30am-12:30pm; Friday, September 13, 6:30-11:30am; Saturday, September 14, 8:30am-noon.  NBC, Sunday, September 15, noon-1:30pm.  All broadcast times are ET.

Keeping in mind that play at the Evian Championship will be six hours ahead of ET, my colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will also provide ongoing updates and commentary on the Evian Championship.

Follow me on Twitter @bethbethel and I’ll notify you when I post news and updates on the Evian and other women’s pro golf activities and events.