Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Evian Masters preview

When I first heard of this tournament four years ago, I assumed it was one of the major championships. I guess “Masters” doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere. They do have rather restrictive eligibility requirements – LPGA or European Tour winners since the beginning of 2005, US or British Open winners since 2004, for example. The full eligibility list is at http://www.evianmasters.com/article.php3?id_article=16. In this respect it is quite Masters-like. 78 players in the field with no cut after two rounds – everybody plays all four days. And they start on Wednesday (don’t forget!) with the final round Saturday. At $3 million, the purse is second only to the US Open. The Evian Masters has been played since 1994, and became an LPGA Tour event in 2000.

Last year, Paula Creamer cruised to an 8-shot victory – she basically had it under control by Saturday’s back nine. Michelle Wie and Lorena Ochoa tied for second. Previous winners include Laura Davies, Annika Sorenstam, and Juli Inkster. The course is one of the shorter ones the ladies have played this year. LPGA.com lists it at 6192 while the tournament website says it is 6283. Either way it’s only the fifth course they’ve played this year under 6300 yards. Par is 36-36-72 with 4 par fives and 4 par threes. 15 and 18 are both par fives, so there are good scoring chances toward the end especially 18 which is definitely eagle-able.

Who’s gonna win? I’ll pick Creamer since she obviously liked the course a year ago and she’s been playing so well recently. My two secondary picks (ok, they’re really CYA picks!) are Ochoa and Annika. I know, Annika’s the easy no-brainer pick but I think she’s starting to play better and I would be foolish not to name her here.

I'll try to post recaps after each round, most likely the following day since TGC's coverage runs 7p-9p EDT.

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