Updated at: 09/12/2013 6:05 PM
By JEROME PUGMIRE
(AP) EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France - The first day of play at the Evian Championship was washed out Thursday after heavy morning rain soaked the newly-designed course.
Players were on the course for less than one hour before being forced to come off, and organizers decided to restart the round on Friday with Thursday’s scores annulled.
"We’ve had nearly four inches of rain since Saturday and the golf course is extremely saturated at this point," said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the LPGA’s senior vice president of tour operations. "It was clear when competitors were out this morning that conditions weren’t conducive to a fair and equitable competition. So the plan is to scratch those scores from today and have all players restart the first round tomorrow."
Officials still hope to complete the tournament on time by playing 36 holes on Sunday.
"It’s a major championship, and the goal will be to complete 72 holes (on time)," Donofrio said. "So we’re going to continue to watch the forecast over the next couple of days."
The weather forecast for Friday and Saturday is for clear skies and, providing there is enough daylight, players can usually keep playing until about 7:30 p.m.
It is not an unprecedented situation, especially this season, with 36 holes played on Sunday at both the LPGA Championship in June and at last month’s Women’s British Open.
"The one thing you can’t control is the weather. Our players are all professionals and they know this," Daly-Donofrio said. "The LET (Ladies European Tour) players were joking in the locker room today that they have had so many tournaments that were delayed or canceled for rain this year."
The tournament, formerly known as the Evian Masters, is making its debut as the fifth major on the calendar. Over the past year, architects have undertaken a multimillion redesign.
"(It) was built under extreme conditions this winter. I’ve been here under the snow with the workers, I think every time I came in it (was) either rain, snow, sleet," Daly-Donofrio said. "Then we had extremely high temperatures in August ... The high temperatures really compacted the soil on the new course and then with the excessive rain we’ve had this week, the course is not able to absorb all the water."
Top-ranked Inbee Park of South Korea, the defending champion, is looking to become the first professional golfer to win four majors in a year.
After winning the U.S. Women’s Open in June for her third consecutive major of 2013, Park’s bid for a fourth straight ended at the British Open, when she four-putted for double bogey on the first hole of the final round.
But she is still the overwhelming favorite at Evian, having won six tournaments this year and leading both the U.S. LPGA Tour money list and player of the year race.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)