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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Two for the Price of One

Yes, there are two -- count them, two -- majors this week.

Senior British Open logoThe first (and most likely the one you knew about) is the Senior Open Championship, which is one of the 5 Champions Tour majors. It's being played at Carnoustie (Scotland) this year, which you will remember was the site of Jean van de Velde's debacle back in 1999. The Championship Course is 7421 yards long (that's 6765 meters, for my readers familiar with the metric system), although I'll be surprised if they play it that long. It looks as if the weather will be damp and fairly windy, and the temperatures will be around the mid-60s -- pretty good weather for a British Open. Loren Roberts is the defending champion, but we'll all be watching to see what Tom Watson does, won't we? Fred Couples won't be there, as he decided to play the RBC Canadian Open instead.

Like the Open Championship, the Senior Open Championship is going to be broadcast completely by ESPN and ESPN2. Here's the schedule:
  • Thursday: ESPN2 12:00-2:00pm ET
  • Friday: ESPN2 12:00-2:00pm ET
  • Saturday: ESPN 2:00-3:30pm ET
  • Sunday: ESPN2 1:00-3:00pm ET
As you can see, there won't be as much coverage as the Open got... but some of it may be live.

Evian Masters logoYou can be forgiven if you didn't know what the other major was. When we talk women's golf we generally think only about the four LPGA majors, and most of the world follows suit. (For example, although Morgan Pressel won the first JLPGA major this year, it simply shows up as a worldwide win in her stats.) Of those 4, only the Women's British Open is "shared" by the Ladies European Tour (LET) and the LPGA -- that is, co-sponsored and counted toward meeting minimum tournament play requirements on both tours.

However, the LET has two majors -- the aforementioned Women's British Open and the Evian Masters. And while it isn't recognized as a major by the LPGA, Evian is co-sponsored by them and counts as an LPGA tournament. If you ask them, the LPGA players tend to refer to Evian as "the fifth major" and consider it a plum tournament to win, so it has considerable stature even over here.

I won't go into detail about the tournament since HoundDog and the Constructivist have already done so. (The Constructivist has also done a really good post on how this tournament may affect both the LPGA and LET rookie races, so check that out as well.) I will simply mention that Ai Miyazato is the defending champion, and it just so happens that Ai and Cristie Kerr switched places in the Rolex Rankings this week; they had to take the averages to 4 decimal points to determine who was #1! Needless to say, this could be a very interesting week.

As an added bonus -- if I'm reading things right -- you can go to this website and watch the Thursday Evian broadcast live on your computer starting around 6:50am ET. The site will be running all day long, showing some press conferences and even giving you the ability to follow the players of your choice. (That's what it says!) You'll note that this page is called "Evian Masters TV Live," but there's also a choice on the menu bar simply called "Evian Masters TV" where you can watch pre-recorded interviews and such.

As you might expect, TGC will be our window on the Evian Masters. Here's the schedule:
  • Thursday: TGC 6:30-8:30pm ET
  • Friday: TGC 6:30-8:30pm ET
  • Saturday: TGC 1:00-4:00pm ET
  • Sunday: TGC 1:00-4:00pm ET
The first two days will not be live coverage, although I'm hopeful about the Saturday and Sunday broadcasts. But we've gotten used to that when it comes to the ladies, aren't we? Hopefully TGC will eventually realize that more live coverage (and repeats in prime time, as they sometimes do with the other tours) would help promote the LPGA.

In the meantime, we've got us two majors to watch this weekend!


  1. That is just weird. A major for another tour - a SHORT FIELD major, no less - that invites the best players from other tours. I'd be a little ticked off if my tour (the LET) left players out to make room for other tours - especially if the other tour kind of dominated the winning.

    How does the Evian explain that ? Aside from the obvious prize money, of course.

  2. The co-sponsorship could be part of the reason. The LET simply doesn't get the attention that the LPGA does, so this raises the LET's profile considerably. As I mentioned earlier, the Evian Masters is sometimes referred to as a fifth major by the LPGA players.

    Ultimately though, I don't think it's any different than the Masters -- a short field event where players from other tours get invited to play... and if they win, they get invited to join the tour. Sure, some PGA Tour players get ticked off, but Augusta National does what it wants and that's a large part of its prestige.

    Both the Masters and Evian are viewed as being larger than the tours they're part of. If at some point in the future today's tours evolve into world tours, the Masters and Evian will automatically become keystone events because of the large shadows each casts across the world of golf.

  3. Not sure I understand what you mean with the co-sponsorship. I know it counts on both tours, but why is it a major on the LET and not the LPGA, or why is it an LET major that invites the rest of the world ? A major should be most valuable to the tours that count it as a major. (same goes for that "major" in Japan that Pressel won)

    The womens' majors, with the exception of the US Open, are majors because some company tacked one of the biggest purses of the year on it. Even the Women's British wasn't immune. The (former) McDonalds, The Kraft-Nabisco - majors because of the money.

    The Masters is a major on every Tour - but not because of the money.

    The World Tour idea doesn't address what is going on today.

  4. All co-sponsorship means, as I said in the post, is that the event is counted toward meeting minimum tournament play requirements on both tours. That part's simple enough. Why is Evian a major for the LET and not the LPGA? That's another question.

    As I said, the LET has two majors -- Evian and the Women's British. When the du Maurier lost its big sponsor (and became the Women's Canadian Open), I assume the LPGA picked the Women's British so they would have an Open Championship as a major just like the PGA and Champions tours. Wikipedia has an article on the women's major championships here:

    that may explain some of the give-and-take that goes on between the tours.

    To say the Masters is a major on every tour kinda misses the point I was making. An Asian Tour player could win the Masters and still lose his tour card the next year; the Masters might earn him a PGA card, but it has no practical effect on his home tour status, major or not. He would get a lot of respect for the win, but that's because (as I said) the Masters is bigger than any of the tours themselves -- it just happens to be part of the PGA Tour. The same could be said of Evian and the LET.

    Finally, I didn't understand what you meant about the World Tour. All I meant was that if all the mens tours combined into a single tour, the Masters would likely survive "as is" and become part of it... and that Evian would likely do the same if the women's tours combined. I was making a point about the importance of the Masters and Evian, not about creating a world tour.

    Are you just in an argumentative mood today, Court? ;-)