EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE | There was a possible problem looming for the 25th Evian Championship as starting times for the second round were brought forward to the tune of 30 minutes because of storms forecast for the evening and the weekend. What is more, since there has been no rain in the area for six weeks, people were suggesting that it could be “raining ropes,” which is apparently the French equivalent of cats and dogs.
Yet whatever happened weather-wise, there was no chance of the championship being cut to 54 holes as happened in 2013 and again in 2017 when the event was played in September. In keeping with its major status, it will carry on to the end, even if that means a still tighter turnaround between Evian and next week’s AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn.
In spite of the theory Justin Rose advanced at Royal Portrush about a man needing more than a month between majors, most of the women were not making too much fuss at the prospect of a reduction in the number of days – from three to two – between their majors of the moment. (Not that it was quite the same for those who have yet to clap eyes on Woburn’s Marquess Course.)
How to stay positive was a common theme. For instance, those who were shaping to miss the cut were discarding earlier thoughts as to how playing well over the fortnight could make for the optimum scenario in favour of counting their blessings at being able to take a rest from the heat.
It has to be said that when, back at the start of the Evian week, Tiffany Joh had advanced her coping mechanism for the twin events, what she said came as something of a shock bearing in mind her Korean heritage. “The key for me,” she volunteered, “will be not to do much practice.”
Sung Hyun Park, the current world No. 1 and the early half-way leader at the Evian after rounds of 67 and 66, was in no hurry to decide whether back-to-back majors were a good thing or a bad thing.
A follow-on question as to what her parents would feel about what she was saying prompted a roar of laughter ahead of an explanation along the lines that her parents had moved to America years before and were “sufficiently Americanised” not to be calling for their daughter to spend a daily six to eight hours on the range.
Meantime, Sung Hyun Park, the current world No. 1 and the early half-way leader at the Evian after rounds of 67 and 66, was in no hurry to decide whether back-to-back majors were a good thing or a bad thing.
Her “major” concern was a little different to most in that she was worried that she might play badly over the fortnight and be left with no more majors on which to take aim across the rest of the season.
In terms of experience, on the other hand, she felt it might do her good to have to focus for so long a span, even if it was only what the tennis players do every time they have a major.
Come what may, Jessica Korda was busy convincing herself that the best way ahead was to pretend that she was dealing with two “normal” weeks.
As one who opened with a couple of 70s, you had to assume that she had not been tuning into too many of the shrieks and yells which echoed around the mountains every time the big screens did a re-run of the Evian of ’08. That was the year when the incorrigible Helen Alfredsson won her third Evian.
One way and another the Alfredsson celebrations reminded Korda – and everyone else – that the Evian is as far removed from “normal” as it is possible to get.
Sung Hyun Park of Korea tees off on the fifth hole during the first round of the Evian Championship, the first of two straight majors. Photo: Stuart Franklin, Getty Images
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