The ladies European Tour (LET) is all set to swing back into action with one of the biggest events on the tour in terms of the purse, the Evian Masters presented by Société Générale, at the scenic Evian Masters Golf Club in Evian-Les-Bains,France.
The event has recently been accorded the status of the fifth major in Ladies golf, given its world class course facilities, high profile field and the biggest purse of all the events on the calendar. The new status of the event was rolled in at the culmination of the US Open.
“The fact that it is in Europe is special,” says Melissa Reid ofEngland, who tied for 19th at the 2010 event. “All the players want to play in it. I’m lucky enough to have played a couple and it’s definitely one of my favourite tournaments. They have the best practice facilities I’ve seen and I’ve been around the world. You can get lost there. It’s mind blowing.”
The total purse of the Evian Masters is €2,437,500 (US $3,250,000), and also has the largest winner’s prize share in all the ladies events both on LPGA and LET. A total of 111 top ranking players from around the world will be participating in the event including the likes of Caroline Afonso, Christel Boeljon, Becky Brewerton, Anne-Lise Caudal, Laura Davies, Sandra Gal, Sophie Giquel-Bettan, Julieta Granada, Sophie Gustafson, Caroline Hedwall, Maria Hjorth, Trish Johnson, Zuzana Kamasova, Christina Kim, Hyun-Ji Kim, In Kyung Kim, Virginie Lagoutte-Clement, Diana Luna, Catriona Matthew, Ai Miyazato, Azahara Munoz, Gwladys Nocera, Anna Nordqvist, Lee-Anne Pace, Suzann Pettersen, Beatriz Recari, Melissa Reid, Caroline Rominger, the 2010 champion Jiyai Shin, Ashleigh Simon, Kristie Smith, Karen Stupples, Iben Tinning, Maria Verchenova and Amy Yang.
The tour is following a tight calendar for the moment, leading all the way to the Solheim Cup in September this year, and the winner at both Evian Masters and the proceeding tournament, the Ricoh Women’s British Open, will have 20 extra points for the Solheim Cup qualification.
Evian Masters was first played in 1994 and this would be its 18th consecutive event on the LET calendar. The tournament has attracted considerable glamour in the course of its short history and the likes of famous English actor Hugh Grant and French footballer Zinedine Zidane participated in the pro-am event before the main event last year.
Laura Davies, famous for being a drift-foot, was seen tackling Zidane in a friendly match hosted before the event. This year, Bixente Lizarazu, Alain Boghossian, Guy Forget, Laurent Blanc and Youri Djorkaeff will be throwing a football challenge to the LET entourage and Davies is most likely to lead the group of ladies golfers against the world renowned footballers.
“At the time, most of the caddies were British, most of them loved football, so we organized a football game. Since then those that have played include Lorena Ochoa, Laura Davies and many other players so it’s a great moment for us,” said tournament president, Franck Riboud.
The field will also include 10 invited players including Afonso, Caudal, Giquel-Bettan, Verchenova,Granadaand Rominger as well as Grace Park, Sharmila Nicollet, Mariajo Uribe, and Cindy LaCrosse, who will all be tee-ing off with the top rankings players in the star-studded event.
Evian Masters is scheduled to kick off from July 21st, preceded by a celebrity match at the Evian Masters Golf Club.