EVIAN LES-BAINS, France – John Miller didn’t get a trophy Sunday at the Evian Championship, but he was the star behind the scenes.
He might have saved Sunday.
Miller, the LPGA’s agronomist, came up with the idea of covering all 18 of Evian Resort Golf Club’s greens with tarps on Saturday night.
“We would not have finished today had we not covered the greens with tarps,” said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s senior vice president of tour operations. “I can say that with 100 percent certainty.”
A half-inch of rain fell over Evian Resort Golf Club through late Saturday night and early Sunday morning. Thursday’s first round was washed out by a third of an inch of rain. That came on top of all the rain that saturated the course earlier in the week.
Daly-Donofrio said it was very much an experimental venture.
“We weren’t sure, honestly, how it would turn out, and if it would help because we had never done it before,” Daly-Donofrio said. “And the grounds crew had never done it before.”
The LPGA wasn’t even sure there was that much tarp in Evian to cover the greens, but they took the proposal to Evian Resort Golf Club’s director, Yannick LeHec, and asked if it was possible.
“It’s a ton of tarp because the greens are very big, and I’m not sure exactly how they got all that tarp, but he said 'We'll do it,' and he got it,” Daly-Donofrio said.
Crews worked until midnight Saturday laying sheets of tarp over every green. Miller and the LPGA weren’t sure how the tarping plan would work, especially with the delicate removal of the overlaid tarps, where rain could spill onto the greens as pieces were removed.
“I don’t think any of us got up thinking we would finish the round today,” Daly-Donofrio said. “We were fully expecting to play today, tomorrow and perhaps even into Tuesday. But, the tarps kept all the rain overnight off the greens. The half-inch that fell would have put the course underwater.
Rain did fall through the night, causing the championship’s Sunday start to be delayed 90 minutes. Though it was raining when play began, there was no stoppage of play. Some light rain fell during the round, but Mother Nature cut the LPGA a break.