Mother Nature strikes again, washes out Evian play


EVIAN LES-BAINS, France – Evian is famous for its water, but there’s way too much of it on the course here in the debut of the LPGA’s fifth major championship.

Heavy rains that saturated the course led tour officials Thursday to cancel the first round of the Evian Championship’s debut as a major. The tour wiped out the scores of the 15 players who had completed at least one hole when play was canceled.

The Evian Championship’s first round is now scheduled to begin anew Friday. The LPGA’s plan is to follow 18 holes Friday with 18 holes on Saturday and then 36 holes on Sunday, but there’s a troubling forecast ahead. Some heavy rain is expected again for Sunday.

The LPGA is committed to completing 72 holes.

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“We are watching the forecast for Sunday,” said Heather-Daly Donofrio, the LPGA’s senior vice president of tour operations. “We do have some options. We’re hoping to play 36 holes on Sunday, but Monday could also be an option.”

The weather has offered some serious challenges to the LPGA's major championships this year. Rain caused the Wegmans LPGA Championship to play 36 holes on Sunday to finish. High winds at the Ricoh Women's British Open caused delays that led most of the field to play 36 holes in a Sunday finish.

The Evian Championship's start Thursday was delayed two hours because of rain. After about 45 minutes of play once the round began, the weather horn blew, stopping play again. After nearly another two-hour delay, the LPGA announced that play was canceled for the day.

They'll all start anew Friday, wiping out the scores of the 15 players who complete at least one hole. 

“It was pretty wet,” said Cindy LaCrosse, who was the early leader after making birdie at the first hole. “The greens just couldn’t hold that much water and the right decision was made, unfortunately for me. Hopefully, tomorrow is better.”

Weather has offered a serious challenge to Evian’s unveiling of its redesigned golf course. Steve Smyers collaborated with European Golf Design in an $8 million makeover since the Evian was last played, but a tough winter and exceptionally cold and wet spring made the work difficult. There are issues with bare patches of grass marked as ground under repair. Players have noted that there’s some inconsistency in how balls are reacting when hitting the greens, some approach shots biting and some skipping.

“Most of you know the story of the golf course,” Daly-Donofrio said. “It was rebuilt under extreme conditions. I’ve been here under the snow with the workers. I think every time I came in there was either snow, rain or sleet. I think we even had some hail as well. And then we had extremely high temperatures in August. The goal was to play the course firm and fast, ideally, with the redesign.”

The weather hasn’t been much better this week. Nearly four inches of rain has fallen in the last six days.

“It’s disappointing,” Daly-Donofrio said. “The players understand that’s the reality of the situation, and there is nothing any of us can do about it.”

Golf Channel will air first-round coverage Friday, beginning at 7:30 a.m. ET.