Twelve months ago at this tournament, Ai Miyazato began a run with the first of her five LPGA titles; a No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women's World Rankings would follow 11 months later, a position she lost to Cristie Kerr following the American's LPGA Championship win. Kerr and Miyazato are so close in the rankings now, that the Japanese superstar actually re-took the top spot at the beginning of this week purely through the ranking calculations, which work on a two-year cycle, meaning she will begin her title defense on top of the world.
At times all the players will feel on top of the world this week, quite literally. The lay-out sits on the mountain side affording gorgeous views of the lake and the towns which nestle on its banks.
The tournament provides its former champions with VIP treatment, so Miyazato and Paula Creamer along with five other previous winners (Helen Alfredsson, Laura Davies, Natalie Gulbis, Karrie Webb and Juli Inkster) will be enjoying the lap of luxury this week. Creamer won the U.S. Women's Open the week before last. And after a forced rest with the LPGA and LET inactive during the Open Championship week, the 23-year-old will look to add a second title following on from her 2005 success.
Our Golf Channel team arrived Tuesday to blistering sunshine, blue skies and light winds. The weather has made the course fast and running, but showers are forecast for the opening two rounds which will soften the going, and likely make scoring a bit easier.
The broadcast team here this week is Brian Hammons as host; Jane Crafter as analyst; Phil Parkin swapping the St Andrews fairways for those in Evian as our on-course man, and me as hole-announcer and interviewer. We'll be directed by our top-class producer, Beth Hutter, who this year has the help of an experienced European Tour Productions crew producing the main television feed. Unlike most LPGA events, Golf Channel is not the host broadcaster of the Evian Masters.
We'll see you for a preview on Wednesday's edition of 'Golf Central,' our tournament broadcast begins Thursday evening.