Major fireworks in store: Evian's 18th returns to a par 5

Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Major fireworks in store: Evian's 18th returns to a par 5

LPGA Tour

Major fireworks in store: Evian's 18th returns to a par 5

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EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France – The 18th hole at Evian has been returned to a par 5 and Jessica Korda can sum up her thoughts in one word: “Hallelujah.”

Korda, of course, had more to say on the subject, mostly that she likes the fact that the tournament now is less likely to be won with a bogey.

“You don’t want to see bad finishing holes,” said Korda, “especially with the leader. You just don’t want to see that. Not good for golf, it’s not good for anyone. This is definitely the right move. Very happy.”

World No. 1 Sung Hyun Park said the hole is more fun as a par 5. Asked if she planned to go for the green in two, Park didn’t even need a translator.

“Yes,” she said, smiling.

Last year the 18th, a par 4, played anywhere from 417 yards to 423 and statistically was the toughest hole on the course each round. This year there are two teeing options set at 484 yards and 441.

Officials changed the 18th to a par 4 when the event became a major in 2013 and the course underwent renovations.

A view of the 18th hole at the 2018 Evian Championship in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

There’s still a major premium on hitting the fairway. Most players had to lay up from the rough when it was played as a par 4. The same will be true this year as a par 5.

In spots, the rough is worse than last year, said Alena Sharp.

“Before when we played the long par 4,” said Sharp, “you had to hit the fairway to go for it.”

Laying up on a par 5 though is a different story.

“Having to hit a solid drive now goes out the door without a par 5,” said Ryann O’Toole. “Way less pressure.”

O’Toole would’ve liked to see officials instead make the rough less penal so it’s not a forced chip-out most of the time.

But wait, there’s more

No. 18 wasn’t the only scorecard change.

The par-5 13th, one of the easiest holes last year, will now play as a par 4, keeping the par at 71. Last year the 13th played anywhere from 480 yards to 503. This year the two tee possibilities are 437 and 409.

“The tournament committee felt No. 18 played better as a par 5 in previous years,” said Dan Maselli, manager of rules and competitions. “The potential for a big swing on the leaderboard on Sunday was very intriguing and the overriding reason for the change. As eagles and birdies are more in play now on No. 18, we looked at other holes on the golf course and No. 13 was the best choice to change to a par 4, as it used to be prior to the redesign.”

The Evian starts on Thursday, with TV coverage on Golf Channel and CNBC through Sunday.

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