The tour has globalized, too, in that time. Whan noted the diversity of winners during the last two years of the tour and that it was many weeks before the first repeat win of the year.
“I think if you went back 50 years,” he said, “there’d be maybe 30 or 40 players who’d be feeling in control of their own destiny on the old tour, but that’s nearly 100 now in terms of players who can win in any given week.”
Amid all the growth, Whan sees the long-term ambition of the Evian Championship as part of what will capture the imagination of players, fans and sponsors.
“Franck Riboud really saw what a lot of other people didn’t,” Whan said, referring to the tournament founder. “That we could really create magic in this little town. Other sports have their small-town unique, magic places, whether it’s Wimbledon or Augusta. Where somebody had a dream and then for 60, 70, 80 years they just kept plugging — and look what they’ve built. So when I met Franck for the first time, I thought, this is a guy who really sees something big and has both the ability and perseverance to make it happen. And if I’m smart enough to figure out how to take down some of the out-of-bounds stakes for him, he could really play this thing.”
A major “out-of-bounds stake” has been addressed by Whan in time for next year. He has moved the tournament back to July, when, because of changes to the men’s P.G.A. tour, Evian will still be the last major of the year. And just as the men’s European Tour has constructed its Rolex Series to create a natural summer swing, the L.P.G.A. schedule will now include the Scottish Open, British Open and Evian in rapid succession, with plans for a fourth event to add to that sequence.
“I really believe that the more people get to see and experience the Evian, we’re going to have 6-year-old girls practicing putting in their backyard or on public courses, saying to themselves, ‘This one’s for the Evian.’ There’s something magical about the place. There’s not a dry eye in the room.”