One of the characteristic moments of the trophy ceremony of the Evian Championship comes when a parachutist descends to the 18th green of Evian Resort Golf. Club to drape the flag of the winner's home country around her shoulders.
On a few recent occasions, no one would have blamed the new champion for pulling the flag around her for warmth.
Although the date of the September tournament had given it the distinction as the last major championship of the year on each tour, it ran the risk of being hit by erratic weather when the seasons changed to Évian-les -Bains in the French Alps, where the tournament is being held – and not enough daylight to weather a storm delay to complete the game.
In two of the six Septembers, heavy rain caused LPGA officials to shorten their latest major to 54 holes. A 2017 play-off between Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Altomare was disputed amid ice-cold rain and hail.
Mike Whan, the L.P.G.A. Commissioner, closed that chapter with an apology in 2018 for moving the tournament from July. The Evian championship starts on Thursday, returns to a summer slot and joins a busy golf calendar again, but with more peace of mind about finishing on time.
"Once I knew I had made a mistake – and I had – I wanted to correct it," Whan said this month. Even with the chance of summer storms, he noted, the tournament has now two hours more daylight every day to get back on schedule.
Although it will take two years to calculate planning kinks – this week's Evian is the first of back-to-back majors with the Women & # 39; s British Open – the move attracts high scores from players.
"I think everyone who grew up in Europe knows that September can be a bit vague," said Nordqvist, from Sweden, who played the game. off 2017. "We can be lucky and unlucky. I feel that this tournament has been hit really hard over the years with unpredictable weather."
The tournament started as the Evian Masters in 1994 and became played late June or early July.
Whan raised to an important status in 2013. The field gr Also owed an 80-player invitational to 120 participants, and he pushed the idea of the September date.
What the association did not take into account was that the increased field would add two more hours of play every day, while it cut off two hours of daylight.
That realization came as a major in the first year of Evian, when heavy rains led officials to scrub the partial scores of the opening round and start again the next morning.
"My line officials said that if this [rain] takes longer than 45 minutes, we will not end today," the Commissioner recalled. "As soon as someone from my staff said so, I said," You idiot, "which means to me.
" It doesn't matter which tournament we're talking about, "he said," if you only have 45 minutes extra daylight and you get a delay of three hours, you cannot catch up on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. [
Then, bad weather, strong winds, started again four years later, and several players were frustrated that they were sent out, even for a few holes.
"I received reports and photos in July and it was perfect," he said about the weather reports he received from his staff. "Usually the report would say," I wish we were kicked off today. "Looking back, I don't think I read what they really said to me: & # 39; I wish we declined today. & # 39;"
Now they are. Whan said the Evian will remain in July, even in 2020, when the Summer Olympics will force a change of schedule to push the Ladies Scottish Open and the Women's British Open later in August.
Whan said he was not overly baffled by the September stumble, and called it part of his promise to put "new and big ideas" to work. "I would be more ashamed of my unwillingness to change," he said.
The commissioner compared it to a player working on a swing change in the winter, who wants to improve a few shots over the course of a round. Often the game goes a step backwards before it gets better.
"I remember I thought it better to be as brave as she is," Whan said. "We have to be willing to take some risks & maybe hit some steals."