2017 Awards: Brickbat #1

As 2017 draws to a close it’s time to reflect on some of the highlights and low-lights of another fascinating year in the game. 

We’ll be nominating Bouquets, Brickbats and Landmark Moments over the Christmas period including this brickbat for the LPGA and its handling of the year’s final major.

LPGA boss Mike Whan during Thursday of this year's Evian Championship.

When it was announced in 2013 that the LPGA’s Evian Championship was to become the fifth women’s ‘Major’, most in golf were sceptical.

While there is no official path to becoming one of the game’s most important events what is certain is that simply being bestowed the title by a professional body does not make it so.

However, while most were unconvinced the tournament was as lofty as its new station suggested there was also a general, unspoken consensus that if Evian and the LPGA could convince us otherwise then the tournament may just gain acceptance.

Five years on and things are hardly going well. This year, for the second time since being ordained a major, the Evian Championship was played as a 54-hole event.

In itself that is bad enough and an almost unthinkable scenario for any other Grand Slam event. But it gets even worse.

The decision to reduce the Evian to 54 holes came on Thursday. After play had already begun.

Then World Number One So Yeon Ryu was 2-under in horrendous conditions and sharing the lead with American Jessica Korda when torrential rain and high winds forced a suspension in play. Reigning US Women’s Open champion Sung Hyun Park was 6-over at the time.

None of that counted, however, as the powers that be decided they would simply wipe out Thursday’s scores (no player had completed nine holes) and restart the tournament Friday as a 54-hole event.

Can you imagine such a thing ever happening at Augusta or the US Open?

The outrage that followed was both fierce and warranted, players and media alike calling out the LPGA for the decision and the organisation and tournament taking a major credibility hit with golf fans.

If the LPGA and Evian are serious about the tournament being one of the game’s most important then it needs to be treated as such. By them.

Reducing this year’s event to 54 hole makes a mockery of calling it a major and both the LPGA and Evian missed a big chance to elevate the tournament’s status by ensuring it went the distance.

LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan has gotten a lot of things right since taking over from Carolyn Bivens in 2009 but this was a major mis-step.

He took full responsibility for the decision at the time and continues to pay the price as the recipient of our biggest Brickbat of the year.


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