Who needs a major label?

JON MCCARTHY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:03 AM ET

The CN Canadian Women's Open is too good to be a major.

Or something like that.

This was the point LPGA commissioner Mike Whan was trying to get across to Canadian golf fans yesterday at Hillsdale Golf and Country Club outside of Montreal.

“If we put ‘major’ in front of this tournament, I don’t know how much would change,” Whan said. “The golf course is spectacular. The tournament is spectacular. The media coverage is solid as you know.”

Solid? What happened to spectacular?

The commissioner said our national open — which was an LPGA major championship from 1979-2000 — is such a great event right now that making it a major might not be worth it from a business perspective. Commissioner Whan, whose background is in business, seems to look at a lot of things from a business perspective.

“The question is how much does (making the Canadian Women’s Open a major) elevate it, because we have to make sure it’s a good rate of return for our business partner.”

Rate of return? Business partner? These aren’t the terms golf fans are used to hearing when talking about major championships but unfortunately have become a reality on the world’s top women’s tour.

There will be a fifth major on the LPGA schedule in 2013 though, it just won’t be in Canada.

Thanks to a massive purse and a new five-year rolling contract with the LPGA, commissioner Whan announced in July that the Evian Masters will become simply “The Evian” and join the major circuit the year after next.

And what’s not to like? The Evian Masters already has a purse that matches the U.S. Open as highest on tour. It also has a view of the alps and Lake Geneva. Not to mention fireworks, a champagne tent, concerts and a nearby casino.

So what if the golf course isn’t up to major standards. A quick $7.5 million US redesign to be completed by 2013 should fix that.

It would seem that in tough financial times the only way to get a major on the LPGA is to buy one.

Buy a major? That question was posed to incoming LPGA chief communications officer Kraig Kann, who you likely know from his 16 years as an anchor on the Golf Channel.

Kann doesn’t officially start until next week but he was nice enough to jump right into the fray.

“I haven’t sat in any meetings yet on that topic, so I’m giving you my perspective from covering it on the golf channel, ‘Did they buy their way in?’ Money never hurts. But it’s a lot more about commitment, it’s a lot more about opportunity,” Kann said.

What would Kann say to Canadian golf fans, who he agrees are some of the best in the world, about the Evian Masters becoming a major?

“I know the people of Canada are probably wishing that was them and I think rightfully so that they would feel like that. It’s a hard question to answer because I’m in a no-win situation no matter what my answer is.”

It seems to be a no-win situation for Canadian golf fans who know that their tournament is as good as it gets on the LPGA, but also know the likelihood of it regaining major status any time soon isn’t very high.

Kann points out that the recent addition of a second LPGA event in Waterloo is encouraging.

“If you’re not going to be a major but your still growing in your country and adding events, that’s a pretty good thing,” he said.

The addition of The Manulife Financial LPGA Classic to be played at Grey Silo in Waterloo is great but it doesn’t take the sting out of The Evian being handed the major tag for Canadian LPGA veteran Lorie Kane.

“I have lobbied hard and it’s really out of my control as to where it goes from here. I don’t know what more we can do,” Kane said. “As a member of the tour, I’ll be honest with you, I was a little bit hurt when the Evian was given major status and we weren’t.”

As for the commissioner’s opinion that when a tournament is as “spectacular” as our national open is, it doesn’t really matter if it is a major, we asked 1996 du Maurier Classic champion and LPGA legend Laura Davies if it matters.

“Well yeah, I’d be lying to you if I said no,” she said.

Davies had nothing but great things to say about the Canadian Open but it was clear, being a major puts a tournament over the top.

So what does the future hold?

“If you ask me if Asia will have an LPGA major in 10 years, then the answer is ‘highly likely,’ ” Whan was quoted by NBC Sports’ProGolfTalk.com as saying last month in France.

Well, there goes that.


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