Long-term commitment; fall date; enhanced global television coverage highlight announcement
EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE, July 20, 2011 - LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan and Danone Chairman and CEO Franck Riboud today announced that Evian and the LPGA have signed a long-term commitment to add a fifth major to the LPGA Tour schedule beginning in September 2013. The tournament, to be renamed "The Evian," will be played on a completely redesigned Evian Golf Club with a strong international field and enhanced international television exposure. Whan and Riboud, the visionary behind The Evian, were joined by Tournament Chairman and Director Jacques Bungert, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, No. 2 Cristie Kerr, No. 3 Suzann Pettersen and LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb for the announcement today.
"Evian has stepped up to make a huge statement for women's golf worldwide with The Evian," Commissioner Whan said in his opening remarks. "From the very beginning, Franck Riboud made it clear to the LPGA, and more recently to me, that his vision was to celebrate the absolute best female golfers in the world, in one of the absolute best locations in the world, and today he has confirmed that promise with The Evian."
"Personally, I never had the pleasure to meet David Foster, the late Chairman and CEO of Colgate-Palmolive, who was the driving force behind the development of the "The Dinah," as well as other tournaments and marketing approaches that lifted the women's professional game to new heights," Whan continued. "However, you didn't have to know him to realize that as a result of his passion and persistence the game of golf is better. He gave the LPGA a tournament, and a location, that will forever be part of our history. In my mind, Franck shares the passion and persistence, and most importantly the vision, that will no doubt help all of us take women's professional golf to a completely new level. The Evian will be a tournament, a location, and an atmosphere that young women will strive to be part of for the next few decades."
The Evian is set to be played the second week of September 2013 and will be the final major of the season following the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wegmans LPGA Championship, U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA and RICOH Women's British Open.
"This is a fantastic achievement for all those who have supported us, first and foremost the players, our faithful sponsors, and the media," Riboud said. "For the region, for this golf resort, for the Evian Masters Organization teams, we are proud to be a part of golf history. I want to extend a special thanks to Mike Whan, the one who made this happen, as well as former commissioner Ty Votaw, whose vision brought us on the LPGA schedule. Finally, our thanks to the players - including Amy Alcott, Annika Sorenstam, Helen Alfredsson, Laura Davies and Juli Inkster - and all the Evian champions, who have supported us from the beginning. There are no sporting events without champions!"
"When we joined the LPGA and became co-sanctioned by the LET and the LPGA, I didn't expect, even if the ambition was there, that 11 years later we would become a major championship," Bungert said. "This tournament has a very unique soul, a strong DNA, and our values have been part of this success. We all share that spirit. With players coming from all over the world, we feel we have now an even greater responsibility towards women's golf to showcase the very best. I would like as well to recognize all the people, within the organization team or 'friends of the Evian Masters family,' who have made this possible by succeeding over all these years on building this event and its international fame."
Evian has agreed to a very long-term commitment to host the event, which includes a complete redesign of Evian Golf Club by a team of architects led by U.S.-based designer Steve Smyers, who has more than 50 projects spanning the globe, and European Golf Design (EGD) who has built some of the best new courses in Europe. The final four holes, called the 'Fantastic Finish,' will play into, and around, a huge spectator amphitheater setting, providing a memorable closing stretch for competitors and fans alike. The redesign will be complete in spring 2013.
"This is a unique opportunity to take a fantastic golf course and transition it into the model for future championship play," Smyers said. "Virtually every tee box, fairway, bunker and green structure will be redesigned to create a 'new' golf course, and major venue, that will challenge the best golfers in the world, and create a lasting legacy as the final LPGA major of the season." The LPGA and The Evian will work together to significantly broaden and enhance worldwide television coverage, to include elements such as pursuing network TV in the U.S., additional hours of coverage, HD production, increased promotion and other production enhancements. The event has continued to increase its worldwide exposure through the years, most recently utilizing European PGA Tour productions to produce the event and broadcasting its coverage in the U.S. via Golf Channel. The location and time of the television broadcasts will be announced at a later date.
"The Evian Masters has always been an elite tournament in the world of women's golf because of the elite field, the spectacular location and the commitment of the global sponsors to the event and women's golf in general," Kerr said. "Players on the LPGA have always considered the Evian Masters on par with the best tour events in all of golf. As an LPGA major, The Evian will continue, as it has always done, to reach new heights year after year."
The current Evian Masters began its legacy of taking women's professional golf to new heights when it landed on the LPGA Tour schedule in 2000 with a purse of $1.8 million, helping to push overall purse levels on the LPGA Tour beyond what they had ever been. Its current purse of $3.25 million is the highest on the 2011 LPGA Tour, matched only by the U.S. Women's Open. The Evian Masters became a co-sanctioned event on the LPGA Tour in 2000 following six years as a major championship on the Ladies European Tour (LET).
The event has a rich history of attracting the very best in the women's game from around the world to Evian Mountain and has cultivated an impressive and culturally diverse list of champions, including LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame members Annika Sorenstam, Juli Inkster and Karrie Webb; Laura Davies, the winner of 72 worldwide titles; and recent Rolex Rankings No. 1's Jiyai Shin and Ai Miyazato. The event has also traditionally awarded invitations to players from emerging golf markets like China, India, Russia and Slovakia.
MIKE WHAN, LPGA Commissioner
FRANCK RIBOUD, Danone CEO
JACQUES BUNGERT, Director Evian Masters
STEVE SMYERS, Golf course architect
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
CRISTIE KERR, Rolex Rankings No. 2
SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 3
KARRIE WEBB, Rolex Rankings No. 9
JACQUES BUNGERT: Welcome to this 2011 Evian Masters, and this very special and emotional moment of this 2011 press conference, as you understand and as you can see, because you've never seen so many here in the press conference.
It's a very special moment. First of all, I would like to acknowledge and thank those present. We have the privilege today to have many person and very important person and members of the Evian tournament in the audience and on stage. I would like to thank the players, because as you know they have quite a big event tomorrow, and they really were kind enough to give us some time. I think it's very nice of them.
I would like first of all to introduce to you Karrie Webb, obviously one of the Evian Masters champion and Hall of Fame member. Cristie Kerr, nobody has to introduce you, Cristie, anymore.
Yani Tseng, who is the current No. 1 Rolex Ranking of the LPGA, and Suzann Pettersen. Thank you very much. So we'll be short so you can go back to play.
I would like also to thank Mike Whan. Well, you've got something to say, so I am sure you will be part of it this afternoon.
Also Franck Riboud, who is the chairman and CEO of Danone Group, but most importantly, tonight and today, the founder and the chairman of the Evian Masters.
I am Jacques Bungert, the director of the Evian Masters. I would like to also thank for their presence Jean Noël Bioul from Rolex, one of our proud sponsors; Martin Renaud, the director of Evian Worldwide; Laurent Sacchi, the president of the resort; Alex Armas, who is the commissioner of the LET, and the LET has been instrumental in this tournament, in making this tournament what it is today; Michel Lacoste, as his name says, the chairman of Lacoste; Yannick Le Hec, who also has been with me very instrumental at the beginning of this tournament, because he used to be the greenskeeper of this tournament, and now he's the director of the Evian resort; Steve Smyers ‑ and Steve will talk later ‑ but Steve been helping us on rethinking this course for 2013; and Rafael Niemi, head of sponsors Societe Generale.
Those are really the people that have allowed us to be here today, and I want to thank them again. (Applause.)
Before turning to Mike, because I guess you have a few informations for us, I would like for you and for those who haven't been in the past years with us, some of them haven't been, two images from '94 where it started. Don't cry.
(Video was shown.)
JACQUES BUNGERT: Good memories. Now I hand the mic to Mike.
MIKE WHAN: Thank you, Jacques, and thank you for the video, too. It's what Evian Masters does, it creates memories, and it was great to start with memories.
I think this is maybe one of the worst‑kept secrets in the last couple days. Hopefully this won't be a complete shock. But when I woke up this morning, I thought, today is a historic day. If you don't know that, I believe you will.
There's only way to talk about making history, and that's to provide a little historic perspective. When I first met Franck and Jacques, I hadn't become the commissioner yet. It was a month before I took the job. We had a meeting, and they shared with me their vision, their dream, their passion.
I remember hang up the phone thinking, That was big, that was bold, and that was full of passion. They don't tell you about their vision half heartedly. Those two guys play all in. I don't know if I remember the exact words, but I remember Franck saying to me at one time, ‘If you let me and you work with us, we believe we can create something truly unique, truly special, create a new platform, build a new legacy for women's golf truly worldwide.’
Thinking about creating a legacy, a true destination where young women around the world will aspire to be and achieve. I really believe that it's already reached that stage at Evian Masters, where young women around the world dream of getting to the Evian Mountain and hoisting the trophy.
But it's about to get a lot more interesting. To give you a little bit more historic perspective, I want to draw a small analogy for you. I never had the personal excitement I guess or ability to meet a guy named David Foster, who was the former CEO and Chairman of Colgate‑Palmolive.
But 40 years ago David Foster had a dream and a vision, and it was big and bold and it was passionate. He was going to bring the LPGA to this place called Palm Springs, which at the time was kind of in the middle of nowhere. We were going to bring Hollywood in and we were going to have Dinah Shore standing on the 18th green. We were going to build this thing called “The Dinah”, which I think had a lot of people scratching their head. He also had ideals and visions and quite frankly executed some of our first international events.
So David Foster was a visionary, and 40 years later we have a tournament, we have a location, and a legacy that will always be part of women's golf. I'll never forget the first board meeting I had after meeting these two gentlemen. I said, I've never met David Foster, but I think I've met the current version of David Foster.
They have a dream, a vision, the passion, and I would tell you they have the guts. That's really what it's taken it deliver it. Because it's one thing to dream big; it's another to have the guts to actually go out and execute it.
We're lucky. And quite frankly, as the LPGA and women's golf worldwide, we're blessed to be partnered with a business like Evian, and be partnered with guys like Franck and Jacques, guys who think big, force us to think big ‑ probably bigger than we were ready to think when we first started talking about it ‑ and forced us to create what we're here to announce today: Which is, in 2013 when you all return to Evian Mountain, you'll return to a new golf course, you'll return to a new time of year, you'll return to a whole new name, The Evian, and you'll return to the fifth and final major on the LPGA schedule.
So in 2013, the Evian, which will be played on a slightly different golf course at a slightly different time of year, is going to be a major on our schedule, will be a major in worldwide golf, and will be the fifth and final time we gather in our season to celebrate the best in women's golf. So on behalf of all of us before I go further, let me say thank you for bringing us the fifth and final major in the LPGA just two years from a today. (Applause.)
Like their dream and vision, this is big and bold. They've really become part of the Hall of Fame, if you will, of women's golf, because they're going to bring us to this mountain in a big way every year with the Evian.
I'll let Steve and Jacques talk a little bit about what's going to happen outside the windows on the golf course. But we're excited, because now we're going to take what was already one of the greatest settings in the game, already what was one of the greatest atmospheres in the game, already what was one of the greatest fields in the game, and we're going to put on it one of the greatest monikers of the game that the game can bestow back to a sponsor and to a tournament, which is to call it a major.
I'm kind of famous around our neck of the woods in writing down what I'm going to say and then never looking at it. I just proved that again today. But I wrote something about two months ago on a plane, and I'm am going to force myself now to actually read it to you, because I don't think I could it better than I wrote it a couple months ago.
Jacques and Franck, one thing is clear as you review the 61‑year history of LPGA, it's taken business partners with vision, passion, and guts to help is elevate the LPGA and women's professional golf to new heights. We're lucky to have partners like you to help envision, and even more importantly deliver, a new page in women's golf history, which will start right here on this mountain in September of 2013.
Personally, we look forward to many years of nurturing this legacy together providing for the future of the women's game, to leave the game better than we all found it, and most importantly, to spread the dream for young girls around the world that they can hoist a trophy on this 18th green on Evian Mountain in major championship style and forever be an integral part of the history and the progress of LPGA and the global women's game forever.
Thank you both so much for what you've done for the women's game. (Applause.)
JACQUES BUNGERT: Thank you, Mike. Very emotional moment. We didn't think 18 years ago that we would live it today. Before giving the mic to the founder and the visionary of this Evian Masters tournament, I just want to say something personal, Franck, probably that I've never said to you.
Just thank you. Thank you for trusting me and giving me the opportunity some years ago to follow you in this great adventure that you started with our father. So just a personal thanks.
FRANCK RIBOUD: I will not explain to you why I choose Jacques to help me. The main reason was because he didn't know how to play golf. So I need some other competences other than to play golf. What can I say? I have some memories which are not in the film you just saw, because when we start 18 years ago it was a small pro‑am, a ladies one.
The year before we have a men’s pro‑am. That was not wonderful, because we prefer ladies.
MIKE WHAN: Print that.
FRANK RIBOUD: I can speak like this because we are in France. Many, many French player, like Patricia (phonetic) and Sandrine (phonetic), which change a little bit my personal life. But that's life.
We were just less than even the number of journalists here. The clubhouse was not finished, and that was the big grand opening of the new course, the new 18 hole. I am sure we will have a new one in 2013. That's the first memory.
The second one obviously is my father, because he was the guy having the vision, and he was ordering me to develop this golf tournament for a very simple reason: At this time we used to have a music festival, and we decide to switch ‑ not to quit, but to switch from music to golf. Perhaps because he was well‑known violinist, and perhaps like when you play golf it's like when (indiscernible) will play violin. I am sure if my father was there he would explain that this way.
The third memory is for the people that help us at the beginning. Perhaps it will not surprise you, but the first is not a body, it is the LET. Because of the pressure of the guy in charge of ‑ I forgot the name of the LET at this period of time, just imagine an English guy coming here in Evian in the middle of the nowhere and having French guys saying, We're going to build the best tournament in the world.
MIKE WHAN: I can imagine.
FRANCK RIBOUD: No, Mike. You, you can't. But even this guy, he can't too. (Laughter.)
And because of Sandrine (indiscernible), perhaps some of you know, she was on the French team as an amateur, and after being at school in the US, we recruit her to be the director here in Evian.
A few years after, Yannick arrived as a greenskeeper, which is something very important for me. Because that's (indiscernible) that you can start as the greenskeeper, but you can become the general manager of 1000 people. So Yannick, you still have to work, because I have 100,000 behind, including you.
The last ones I would like to thank is the team of Danone. It's true that I am the general manager of the tournament, but besides that, as I told you, I have the responsibility of a 20 billions Euros company and 100,000 people. Some of them are there. I would like to send them and all the others because they are so good I have the time to take care of a stupid golf tournament. Thank you.
After that, there is somebody just here, (indiscernible). I told him this morning that the players told me that the course this year is perhaps one of the best since 18 years. And I remember in May we have a discussion, because in May the temperature here was 35, 30 degrees. We are waiting snow for tomorrow, but we are not in charge of the weather. So we want to thank you, because you and your team are really doing great job and they really increased the competencies because of the tournament.
After I have all the sponsor, and we already speak about Rolex, Societe Generale, Lacoste. But there is somebody else who's is the brother of Lacoste called Bernard. Because I met Bernhard before he pass away in 1994, something like this. Everybody told me, Franck, don't go there. He will fire you. Oh, no, I am not afraid. Even if they have (indiscernible.) I am yogurt maker. Normally they love yogurt. Bernhard was really at the beginning of the story, and obviously Michel and his wife are now I'm doing the job.
Just one world on the tournament. It's going to become a major. So the question mark for Jacques and myself is, Okay, now it's a major. You will take care of the sports side.
The only thing we want is to keep the ambiance and it will continue to be a real experience not only for the player but for the caddie.
Why do we have a soccer match here in the middle of a golf tournament? Because I was caddying for a ladies player in my life, called Sandrine. I tried to enter the clubhouse ‑‑ that was in U.K. sorry ‑‑ the guy told me, Who are you? You know who I am. I just want something to drink. No, no, no caddies. So I put up the patron badge and I said, No, no, I am with this one. Okay, let's go. I told Jacques, They are not only the caddies; they are part of the family, so we have to do something, we have to organize something for the caddies. They are crazy about soccer, and we decided to do a soccer match. That was 1998. That was a great year for us in terms of soccer. After that we forget. (Laughter.) The first match we play, okay, the caddies, and we invite some friends. And that was really funny because all the caddies were looking to who was going to play against them. Oh, that's them. That's the real one. We want to keep this.
And I am sorry, Mike, but we want to continue to have stupid ides. We call them (in French.) Like the guy and the flag going down or whatever. So every year we will invent something, because at the end, we want to keep this week as a family party.
It's a golf tournament. You (talking to players) are doing your job incredibly well. You can make a lot of money. It's your job. But for us, it must stay as a family party. The role of the tournament for me is not only for the professional. The way we finance many things, starting with the school. We start from zero, and we now have 120 kids from five years old, whatever, discovering golf. And they can play at the golf course and the training center for free, for nothing, financed by the tournament.
I think if we want to develop the golf not only worldwide but especially in France, it's more and more difficult to play golf when you are a kid if you don't have enough money. Because golf courses are very select so they are closed or they belong to a chain. So if you ask what time is it you have to pay 10 Euros. I want to be sure this golf course, golf club will go back to the past when kids can play for free, when the ex‑caddies will transfer and transmit the etiquette how to control yourself what are the rules and so and so on. So that's the global idea we have behind this golf destination as you said, Mike.
Next year we will open. You see this beautiful training center. We have a stupid idea with Yannick. If you go in the mountain you have what we call a (in French.) I don't know how to say in English. We will have the golf refuge, very, very low price. No television, no phone, nothing. Just people and kids crazy about golf. They will come there for a very small amount of money, and at 5:00 the golf will be for them. And if they want to play soccer on the golf training part, they can do it. So we will open that.
After that, I would like to thank the mayor of the city, the region, and obviously the players, the sponsors. I come back to very pragmatic things. The date of the tournament we will switch the date of the tournament to the second week of September. If we understood well Mike, we will not have two major week‑to‑week. That will be the last one of the year, which is very important for us. We are very proud of that.
On top of that, in terms of business it is good for us also, because in July we have a lot of customer. September here they start to go back to Paris and somewhere else. So the week will be really the week of the tournament, and we can start to really close the golf course one week and a half or two weeks before so we can prepare it as well as we can or as usual.
The golf course, I will ask to Steve and Yannick to come, and I will ask Steve to explain the golf course as he try to explain it to me before I have a nervous breakdown. And I have to thank you everybody from the LPGA, including Steve, because I have my character here, and it's not every day easy to drive with me.
But I already say sorry, but sometimes I am really under pressure from many other reasons, so I want to go straight to the point.
Steve, now you can do as you like.
STEVE SMYERS: Thank you very much. My name is Steve Smyers, I'm a golf course architect, and I would like to echo what Mike Whan said. When I first met with Franck and Jacques they said, If you hang with us, we will help create something very, very special and very unique in the world of golf. We want to do it big, we want to do it exciting. So I want to thank you for what I'm getting ready to talk about. Their fingerprints and their thoughts are in this plan as much as any of us.
I also want to thank Dave Sanford from European Golf Design who has been working diligently on this project and has done a great job. He and I and the people of Evian are all working together to change and recreate this golf course.
I guess we're going to really take several things and implement this into the design of course. First and foremost, we've got a beautiful setting. We've got the Alps. We've got the lake. We want to try to focus more of the intention of the golf course on the Alps and on the lake to feel like a real strong interactions with this beautiful environment that we have here at Evian.
The other thing we're going to do is take the golf course and really make a strong emphasis to connect the golf course, the features of the golf course to the landscape to give it a real good, a real natural feel, and also to create strategy and shot‑making that will emanate from the landscape.
I think you wanted me to talk about a few holes on the golf course; is that correct? When I say that, it goes without saying, every tee, every fairway, and every putting surface will be altered and relocated, reshaped, redesigned, and the golf course will have a whole new look and feel on all 18 holes.
There will be five holes in particular that will have very much of a different look than we have today. Those holes we'll explain here in a moment. They'll be the 5th hole, the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th holes. We're going to dramatically change those holes. They're going to be located in a totally different situation. What we're going to do with those holes is we're going to create a real good atmosphere for the gallery to spectate. They'll be able to view all the holes from basically just one location ‑ or three of the holes from one location. We'll have these holes with a very strong relationship to the landscape. These holes are going to test the golfer's creativity, their imagination, their shot‑making, and their mental fortitude to play these holes.
The 5th hole will be recreated into a par‑3. We're going to move the tee to the top of the hill, create a series of lakes and waterfalls with the French Alps in the backdrop, and create a mid‑length par‑3 which will be very dramatic to look at and a very good test of golf for the players to play.
The 15th hole, which is a par‑5 now and will stay a par‑5, but we're going to move the tee back slightly and we'll reposition the putting surface real close to where the fairway bunker on the left is right now. This will create a two‑shot or a risk/reward hole. It's going to require the golfer to hit a very precise tee shot. From there, they'll have multiple ways to attack the golf hole. The ideal way is to hit a big sweeping hook, use the hillside, which will be on the right‑hand side, and be able to feed the golf ball down onto the green.
If the player is not successful with hitting that shot, we're going to require them to hit a pitch‑and‑run shot that's going to require a lot of feel, because the putting surface is going to have a trait from one of the famous golf courses in America, Oakmont. The green will be running away from the golfer. So it's going to be a real swing hole. If a golfer hits two very precise golf shots, they're going to have the ability to make a birdie or an eagle. If they waver a little bit, then a bogey is certainly a reality.
The 16th hole is going to be a par‑3, and it's going to be a shorter par‑3. The tee is going to be up on the hillside, up to the right on top of the hillside, and it's going to be a downhill par‑3 with the screen which is now in front of 15, the putting surface will rest right down on that little lake. We're going to create a lake. It's going to be about 150‑, 160‑yard shot, maybe a 140‑yard shot to a green that rests right down on the lake. It'll be a wide but very narrow green asking for the golfer to hit a very precise tee shot on this hole.
If they reach the green, the putting surface will be very flat in nature, so a birdie is a very, very attainable if they hit a good shot there. Conversely, if they land it short it's going to go in the water, which will receive a sharp penalty. Or if they go long it's going to go in the bunker and hitting a nice little pitch shot out of the bunker.
17 is going to be a par‑4. The tee is going to be positioned back a little further, and the green is going to be positioned further back than where the 16th hole rests right now. It's going to be a (audio interruption) hole asking the golfer to hit two good shots to an elevated green. It's going to require the golfer to hit a shot down the left‑hand side. From the left‑hand side, you'll have a flatter lie and better angle into the green; the right‑hand side you kind of have a hanging lie with a short shot into a small target. So birdie is very achievable there with two good shots.
18, with the pressure on the line, is going to be a very, very strong par‑4. It's going to occupy the same space as the current 18th hole does right now. It's going to be a very long par‑4. The lake is going to be enlarged in the front, the putting surface will be elevated, and you'll be able to see the lake. The tee shot is going to be a very demanding tee shot because you've got to hit a good tee shot there in order in to have a good shot at the green in two.
So we want to end this championship, this major championship, where the winner is going to be required to hit two great shots on 18 in order to win this championship.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Thank you, Steve. Very exciting. Franck maybe a few words on the new name.
FRANCK RIBOUD: We are also going to change the name. But we are marketing people, so we will find a solution to create a story with the new name. It's not very innovative because it's going to be called The Evian Championship, or we'll just call it The Evian. That will be enough. So we have a new logo. The logo is there. If you can't read the championship, it's okay. (Laughter.) So that will be the new name of the tournament, and we love it.
MIKE WHAN: I just wanted to wrap up on something Steve said on the fantastic finish. The fan side of the course, Steve talked about the course. One of the things that always made Evian Masters special is this amphitheater that gets built around the final 18. So think about that amphitheater in two years being two‑sided, like an upside down V. Essentially, the fans are going to watch them hit into 15, watch them hit into 16, tee off at 17, and hit into 18. We're really going to create an amphitheater where the final four holes, the final four shots, the final four putts are all going to be built into this kind of fan super amphitheater.
Franck's point about leaving what the Evian Masters is, which is a special kind of celebration at the end, we're just going to major it up and make sure that you feel it for 15, 16, 17, and 18. And I think not only is Steve addressing some course changes for a fantastic finish, but I think to Jacques' and Franck's credit, were also thinking about the fan experience in those final four holes.
The players will feel it in the final four, and I think the fans will be part it. I just didn't want to miss that. Because I think as a fan, I'm excited about what you're talking about as much as maybe a player may be on some of those shots.
JACQUES BUNGERT: So this is fantastic transition, because talking about the experience for the players, it's now the time for the players to talk about it. Once again, if we are there, if you're here, and if we started it, it's for you. It's thanks to you. So, again, thank you for being here and for being here all these years.
Yani, maybe a few words.
YANI TSENG: Always very happy to be back here. It's a wonderful, beautiful place. There are a lot of fans here. We really appreciate it, and really looking forward to the new major in 2013. Very, very exciting. (Applause.)
CRISTIE KERR: I think this is very exciting news. I mean, when you think about making a great recipe, you think about all the things that go into it, and this tournament certainly has all of that: Great sponsors, Lacoste, Rolex, Societe Generale, Evian, the great organization, the LPGA and the LET. With the new changes to the golf course, it has all the right parts to making a great recipe and being a major championship. They say do it and you do it, and it's amazing that there is no limit to what they will do to make the tournament better.
So I think that the partnership over so many years and the support that they've given us is a natural progression, so it's very exciting. (Applause.)
JACQUES BUNGERT: Karrie, you won this tournament. I'm sure you will win it again as a major now.
KARRIE WEBB: I would love that.
JACQUES BUNGERT: So thank you also because you were part of the building of this.
KARRIE WEBB: Thank you, Jacques. I just want to thank Franck and Jacques and Evian for everything we've talked about. To have the support of such a worldwide company in Evian and Danone, the LPGA couldn't be luckier. Such a great company.
For the last 18 years, the tournament has gotten bigger and better. The best players in the world have come to play each and every year. I first played here in '95, so I've been coming for a long time, too. I think Evian is a beautiful place, one of the most beautiful places in the world, and what a fantastic stage to host the fifth major. I think the changes to the course are going to be very exciting, so congratulations to you both, and thank you for being a part of the LPGA family.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Suzann, I would say you're the local one coming from Europe. You've also been playing this tournament for some years.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yes, I think I'm on my tenth year this year, so it's kind of an anniversary. All I can say is I'm very happy to bring a second major to Europe. Obviously as the only European at this table, I think it's fantastic.
I think everything you said and the changes you're going to make to make is going to make this become the fifth major, I can only thank you for all you've done for us, because we all love to come here. Like I said, it's going to be great to finish a full year here in Evian as the last major of the year. Thank you. (Applause.)
FRANCK RIBOUD: To conclude, again I would like to thank the LPGA and you, Mike, because you are the third one we know as a commissioner. So we destroy the two first ones. (Laughing.) We try with you, but we fail. So, again, more seriously, thank you, because without you, I don't think we will achieve this majorship.
As all of you understand ‑‑ I am talking to the Anglo‑Saxon world ‑‑ you know what does it mean. Here in France it's more difficult to explain, because, okay, we are a major. So what? The best way I think to understand what does it means for is when I listen to Karrie and I know that she won tournament and it was not a major, I'm very happy, because the next 20 winners or next 30 winners, the next 50 winners will say, Hey, I won a major, Evian.
So I think that the last 18 years we build the equity of the tournament itself. Now we are part of your family in the world of golf. So for a French tournament here in Evian, it's really an achievement you have to understand, and we are very proud.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Thank you very much. Maybe a few words, Mike.
MIKE WHAN: I just wanted to commemorate the event a little bit, so I Googled how to say a major debut. So be careful, it’s in French. It's for your desk, and it says, (in French and off microphone.)
FRANCK RIBOUD: When I was a kid I used to come to the hotel here because the Evian didn't exist at that time. I used to go in the room of my father here. I was always playing soccer in the room, and he always told, me, You are going to destroy this bottle.
So this bottle was like the one from when I was five, six years old in the hotel with my father. There is only one. This bottle was the first Evian bottle. Yeah, I will advertise a little bit the brand now. We are talking about natural spring water. We are not talking about tap water ‑‑ I am speaking to the American, huh? It's natural filtration. If you go in the center of the city here we have a (French) ‑‑ don't ask me to translate that into English. It's a place where the water is going out naturally. After that, the water goes to the lake.
But you can go there with a jug and you can have Evian water for free. But please don’t go there, we need the money for this tournament laug. But at this time in the early '80s people were coming. So you go there and you take Evian water. That was the original bottle of Evian, so for me it's a real memory. (Applause.)
MIKE WHAN: I promise not to let my kids play soccer anywhere near the bottle. (Laughter.)
JACQUES BUNGERT: Now let's get back, and before signing officially the papers of this contract, I want to give maybe the time for the press to ask a few questions if you want.
Q. Does it mean that next year the course is closed to play?
FRANCK RIBOUD: No, because next year we have the tournament in June called the Evian Masters ‑‑ July, sorry. So we are working a lot with Yannick and Steve to see how we can refurbish the golf course not closing the golf course from May to end of September.
September is also very important for us in terms of golf, because I was talking previously about the golf school here in Evian. We already start the annual kids' camp. You have now in September more than 160 kids from 7 years old to 12 years old. That's the reason why you can see now new tee shots on the golf course. They have done for the kids.
So I say that between May, end of April, May, to September, it will be open. Next year will be not so disturbing. And the following winter we will do everything Steve was talking about. So we will not close the golf course, and we explained that yesterday to the members of the club.
MIKE WHAN: One of the impressive things that Franck is not saying, is when we talked about how long it was going to take to do this redesign, he kept saying to Steve, How come it takes so long?
Steve says, Well, we've got to put the seed and the seed grows. Franck said, We won't seed, we'll sod. And that's how we're going to be able to really have this course ready to playable in spring of '13 and playable as a major in the fall of '13. Again, that's another impressive decision about doing it right and doing it right now. It's an advantage, quite frankly, to what it would have taken with some other tactics.
FRANCK RIBOUD: I will answer your question, Why do we make lake? Because it's beautiful, I think it will be it more difficult to play, but also because we don't want to import grounds from somewhere else. Because when you import ground from somewhere else, you don't know what's in the ground. So we want to use our own ground, the one we know all across the golf course. So we will use the ground from the lake to shape the rest of the golf course.
And on top of that, we have a super vision with Yannick. We want to be perhaps one of the first organic golf courses. As you know, the spring, the water is going just below the golf course, so we are using very, very few fertilizers. Very few.
And even the greens ‑ and perhaps Yannick, you can explain how we are going to do that ‑ we will close the training, the range, and we will use what we call the (French), we take every year from our greens. And thanks to the golf colony, because the golf colony will also give us a small (French.) Like this we will produce our greens, and they will be directly the same quality as the one that we have there, which is important because we know that they are nature friendly with the Evian nature. So we will not import anything from the outside.
Q. Question for the players. Girls, what's your plan now? Do you want to win this year or wait for 2013.
CRISTIE KERR: Now. (Laughter.) And again next year. What's you answer.
KARRIE WEBB: I think any time you win a tournament here it's special. Obviously in a couple years' time it'll be even more special than it would be to win this year.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Both. I would take both this year and next year and '13.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I think every year I can win here will be very special for sure.
Q. What are you going to do about field size? How do you qualify to get in? I assume you'll go off the Rolex Rankings. Will it be sort of similar to LPGA Championship, Kraft Nabisco?
MIKE WHAN: We think the field size is going to be about 110. That could be plus or minus 10. One of the things in talking with Steve, he said, Hey, the way the course will be set up you might be able to get more on. But tougher green complexes in a major, we might play slower.
So we're going to have to kind of feel our way through that the first couple of years. We haven't finalized field size for 2013, but I think you've got it exactly right: we continue to expect a pretty global field. We continue to expect this to be pretty Rolex‑Rankings generated.
I don't think it's going to be just like LPGA Championship or just like Kraft Nabisco. Like a fifth major, it'll be slightly different. But I think you can exact to see the top players and representation from around the world as you would expect in a major.
Q. And Karrie, what are we going to call it when you have six different majors?
MIKE WHAN: Really good.
KARRIE WEBB: We'll leave that up to the people that create those. I think some of the media might be able to come up with a few ideas.
Q. What is the exact reason of dropping Masters for Championship? And secondly, in 2013, will this become the fourth major because Kraft will disappear?
MIKE WHAN: No. I'll go in reverse order. Kraft isn't going away in 2013, and there's no hidden agenda in announcing five majors. Trust me, it would be easier to talk to you about this being a fourth major in '13 and nobody would ask me the narrative questions that I've had the last 48 hours.
We will play the Kraft Nabisco in '13, the LPGA Championship, the U.S. Open, the Women's British Open, and we will play The Evian as our five majors. As players have heard me say, Kraft Nabisco is going to a location and time and major on our schedule as long as I am commissioner.
So that doesn't mean like any other major we may not have sponsor changes over the years, but there is no plan to add this and have four. The plan is to have five truly mega events from a media perspective, a fan perspective, exposure perspective.
Two things: First, this golf tournament is going be different with a lot of the same flavor. Franck already addressed that. The atmosphere, the family nature in the mountains together is the same, but it will be on a different golf course with a different stage. And we felt the need to address that difference.
Second thing is, we didn't want to get ourself in any kind of conflict with another tournament that calls itself the Masters and is also a major. In order to make sure that we aren't, this isn't to be compared to that and never has been, never will be, even as major. So calling it The Evian and the Evian Championship is as it always has been. Like I said to Franck and Jacques the first time we talked about it, this tournament is like nothing else, this setting is like nothing else, this partnership is like nothing else, and this name will be like nothing else as well.
I think when players tell you in five or six years, I won The Evian, it's all the images that will come into your mind when you say, "The Evian" and make it as unique as the course.
FRANCK RIBOUD: We are different, we really tried to build something different, and we will continue. But we really respect the tradition of golf. So when Mike explained that there is another very well‑known called the Masters, we respect that.
We really want to continue to build the tradition and history of golf, and he will help us to be part of this family. So for us that was not even an issue. Since there is an issue, we change. Because we feel that when a tournament like Augusta, the Masters present this to us, we don't have to negotiate that. As a golf family member, the Masters is the Masters. Nothing else.
So that was not even a discussion between us. We say, no, no, we change the name. You send me a message about this. And we discuss with them. I have a very small story about this, because it was very difficult for us to get an appointment to explain that we exist in Evian. I said, Yeah, but part of my family was a member of Augusta, and as you know, I don't know if it is always the same rules, but it is two member from each country. One of the two French was the brother of my father. That's the way we get the appointment. We discuss and there was no problem. We want to be part of the tradition.
MIKE WHAN: If there are any questions for players, I would ask you pose those now. They have a 5:00 commitment to get to.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Thank you very much again for being with us. Have a great tournament. See you on the 18th on Sunday. Thank you. (Applause). Now do you have a few more questions? We're going to release the players and going to sign the final page of the final agreement. Thank you again.