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September 12, 2018
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the 2018 Evian Championship. Before we begin, I'll just explain how we'll do this. To my left I have Franck Riboud, president of the Evian Championship.
I have Anna Nordqvist, the 2017 champion.
I have Jacques Bungert, the vice president of Evian Championship.
I'll start with a few questions for Anna, ane then we'll throw it to the Q and A with the media gathered here, and then I will toss it over to Jacques to continue the conference after that.
Anna, last year you overcame a five-stroke deficit in the final round, the largest comeback ever in the history of this championship. What was that moment like for you to win?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, it was definitely special to win coming back from a few shots. I had a good first day, and then the second day I think I shot 1-over par. I made bogey on 9 and I was really disappointed for a long time because I knew that kind of threw me further away from the lead.
So going out on Sunday, started with a bogey; played great, 2, 3, 4. Didn't make the putts. I three-putted on 5, so all of a sudden 2-over for the round after five holes.
Quite wasn't the start I was hoping for. Then I birdied 6 with a back pin, and then eagled 7, so all of a sudden I had a little bit of a momentum swing.
And then turn around on the back nine and had a great finish. Birdied 12; birdied 14; eagled 15; birdied 16; eventually bogeyed 18. Then had to wait to see what was going to happen with the players still out on the course. It was definitely special.
I mean, even just getting into the playoff. I mean lydia was up there; Mo was up there; there were a lot of great players up there.
To get in the playoff and even have a chance on Sunday, I mean, I knew I posted a good round. Started blowing a little bit and getting really cold. So just to put myself in the position to win was pretty cool.
THE MODERATOR: And that was your second career major championship and your eighth LPGA victory. Since then you've had six Top 10s this year. How are you feeling about your form in 2018?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, it's been a little bit of a challenging year. Pretty slow start to the year. I feel like I've been playing better. Game hasn't been as consistent as in previous years. I feel like it's been a lot better lately. I went back to work on a lot of old stuff. Took help from my childhood coach, Patrick, on a few things to kind of straighten out my game.
Been trying to trust myself a little bit more. This is my tenth year as a pro, and by now I think I know -- I probably know more than I trust.
So just doing a lot of practicing on my own and trying to trust what I'm working on. I feel like I'm much better. It's been a little bit up and down lately still, but I feel like I'm getting more and more consist and pretty happy where I am right now.
THE MODERATOR: Great. And this week I'm sure you've had a lot going on. Had to give the trophy back last night, unfortunately. What's it been like being the defending champion and being back here in France?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think last year, I mean, it was so late. It was so cold. I was freezing. I was still shaking from winning. It was just like pitch dark by the time I left the golf course. I just don't think it was the time for me to really soak in what happened.
I came back to the hotel room and there was a massive bottle of champagne, like my trophy replica, and a few other presents. I was like, All right, did I really win? Did this really happen?
So I think coming back here this year seeing my name on the trophy and seeing all the pictures, getting to stay at the HÃ´tel Royal, it's just been a moment. Like I feel really proud and I feel like now it's really soaked in that I did win last year.
It's been really cool. I been walking around with a smile on my face this week. It was bittersweet to give the trophy back to Jacques and Franck yesterday, but hopefully I'm going to work really hard to maybe one day get the trophy back.
No matter what, like this place is always going to be special. I'm always going to be very proud for winning a major, and especially being European winning one in Europe.
THE MODERATOR: Questions. Anyone with a question?
ANNA NORDQVIST: All right. We're out of here.
Q. The weather forecast tomorrow morning calls for some thunderstorms generally. Do you think the best thing to do is move to July? Are you in favor of the move?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I mean, this championship has always been great. I think everyone who has grown up in Europe knows that September can be a little sketchy. We can be lucky and we can be unlucky. I feel like this tournament has really been hit hard with some unpredictable weather over the years. It's really too bad, because it's really one of the best events we have all year and atmosphere, everyone who comes out, the way you guys run this tournament, the course conditions and everything. It deserves to be played in great conditions.
I mean, we're lucky this week. It's been great so far. I feel like we were pretty lucky for the most part last year. A little bit in the playoff with the hail and stuff and on the Thursday.
But we've had this championship in July before, and I feel like July in Europe probably gives a little bit of a percentage of better weather. I guess weather is a little bit of the challenge with golf, so I feel like July is going to be great.
But so far, I think we're going to be really happy this week.
Q. If you take weather out of the equation, what's the biggest test of your game on this golf course?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I mean, it's a tough golf course, especially with these greens and all the undulations. The course is drier this year. Greens are a little bit firmer. I feel like it's going to make it a little bit tougher to get close to some of the pin positions, which if you miss it on the wrong spots it's going to live you a little bit more difficult up and down or putt.
So definitely being able to place it on these greens is going to be the probably No. 1 challenge. I mean, 16, if they put that back pin, greens a little bit further, it's going to be hard to attack the pin and make a birdie, make up some ground.
So I feel like it's a great golf course and it's probably as good as I've ever seen it. The rougher is thick this year. Overall, it's a great challenge. I'm certainly looking forward to it again.
THE MODERATOR: Any further questions? Last one from me. In about a month's time you'll go to Korea and play with your fellow teammates in the UL International Crown. Everyone is familiar with your success at Solheim Cup. How much are you looking forward to being in team competition again?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I love team competition. I mean I played in five Solheim Cups, and that's probably more than I could have dreamt of as a girl growing up. Sweden played in the International Crown the first year - I believe it was 2014 - and I think we surprised a lot of people and finished second.
It's great fun. I played with Caroline Hedwall back in '14. It's just a fun format. Like walking up to the first tee you have music. It just makes for a different kind of tournament.
I know the crowds in Korea are going to be pretty crazy, so I'm certainly looking forward to it.
THE MODERATOR: We are as well. With that, I'm going to pass it over to Jacques to introduce the tournament.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Thank you. Thank you, Al. We actually spoke about the change of date. Honestly, I'm still sorry because I have nothing to say. The weather is fantastic. Even tomorrow we might have some, but...
FRANCK RIBOUD: Tomorrow we will have no storm. No. If we have, it will be during the night.
JACQUES BUNGERT: And it will pass over.
The 18th of course is really in a best shape, and we all know that aside from the champion, our champions, the course is the star of the week.
For us, it's very exciting. You were talking about July. Even though we all know this the weather is not anticipated at any time, be it September or July. For us to have this condition is also great for the whole team to prepare the week. Next year will be very exciting week as well for our 25th anniversary.
This week really everything so far and - touch wood - we'll talk about it on Sunday evening and hopefully on the green -- but everything is really going smoothly. I can see smiles on the faces of the players, which is for us the key word. I see smile on the face of Mike Whan, so for me and Franck it's always good news.
It's true that the relationship we have with the tours is fantastic, really and with the officials. And if I put it that way it's because it's not always been the case. Really we can say we have fantastic partnership.
And on the sport side, obviously everything is set and the key now is to see who will be on the green on the 18th. I am sure the week will be very competitive. Obviously the RAMA is very open this year, because we've got a top 10 that's really competitive.
On the other side for us, as an organization, and you know that the ecosystem of the Evian Championship is not only the tournament but what's around it, what's inside. More than ever the week is about innovation. We have our sponsors, a lot going on.
But we have some products that are really using the tournament as a window. Today actually we have a representative (indiscernible). We're also experiencing a new system with article intelligence. So the tournament is also a platform to innovate in many ways.
Golfing-wise, as you know, we have Golf Zone, which is starting this week. It's really challenging for us. It's going to be very interesting, because the ambition of the tournament, more than ever, is not only to be an event for a week but it's also to be a community, a community throughout the year and a base of golfers throughout the world who are really keen on hearing about the tournament, hearing about the kids, hearing about the new talent we open the championship for.
This year we had the Palmer Cup, and for us it was a fantastic experience as well, which shows that the vision of Franck on the opening up to the future of golf is really taking embodiment in the tournament.
And aside from that, on the other side, we are talking about innovation, but on the other side we are also more than ever being rooted in the tradition and in the key codes of the golfing family.
For instance, we see each other in few minutes at the grand opening of the David Leadbetter Academy. David, as you know, is rooting one of his teams here in Evian throughout the year.
We talked about the Palmer Cup we're going to have. For us it's also great because it's part of our mission to really convey the values of women's golf. We'll have Thomas Bjorn, who is the captain of the European Ryder Cup, who just before the Ryder Cup comes in Evian.
It is a very important symbol to show our Evian and women's golf is important in the world of golf and France especially. That's very exciting. Last year we had Gary Player, as you know. I want to thank Rolex for that as well, because it's part also of the relationship we have with our sponsors and the way we want to put ourselves on the board and on the map of the golfing world.
I think little by little we are managing that thanks to the tour and thank to our sponsors. So it's really a very exciting week. And once again, even more so that it's the last week of September and next year for us will be a reset. We will have a lot of new surprises. Really it's going to be a big year next year as well because we're preparing not only surprises, but some interesting changes. You'll see that.
And Franck doesn't know yet about everything. The fact of the matter is that really we're looking forward. Maybe now you want to ask some more? Answer the question?
FRANCK RIBOUD: Perhaps I can add two or three things. First of all, I have to say with Mike there that since 25 years or since we are sanctioned by the LPGA, we never achieve such about relation with the LPGA. Make some change, we make some change, but I can say we just have a meeting talking about the golf course. What could we do next year? We are going to change things I can't tell you now.
In five minutes we decide together what we have to do. So for us, it's really validating what we did, because we are French, definitively French. They are American. (Laughter.) Okay? I'm not talking about the short term. They are American. So we have to learn from each other. I think Mike, it's done now. It's not a question of friendship. It's a question of how to work together, and it works.
But it's a real good thing for us to achieve that kind of relation with our American friends from the LPGA.
The second thing is it seems very easy. We are doing this kind of press conference now 24 years with Jacques. But you have to understand that to conduct an event during 25 years -- next year is going to be 25. Without being blase, as we say in France. Not being fed up with the event. Always finding innovation and reinvent the things. Not only the golf.
It's not so easy keeping the energy of the team at the same level. It's with some difficulties because of the weather. But we'll have a beautiful weather; I'm sure next year in July we will have four days of rain. I think everybody agree. Weather is something you can't plan.
It's like in August. We don't have rain here since more than two months. It's forbidden to put water on the golf course. We have a special because of our good relation with the French authority in this part of France and we have a big lake. But we have also a factory. Not using the water of the lake, but in the bottle. We have a specific authorization to put water on the golf course. It's forbidden.
It's something you have to imagine for the future. The future is not going to be a golf course with any water you want, with chemical product everywhere. And even the players, they will have to accept sometimes that the quality of the green will not be perfect, the quality of the fairway is not perfect, and so on and so on.
Trust me, this is the future of golf, which is to go back to the past because of environmental issue. Perhaps in the U.S. they don't care, which is not true. You will see some states in the States where is going to be -- chemical product are going to be forbidden.
That's the reason why even on this subject we try to be in advance. We try to deal with organic product to control the nature. Not kill the thing we don't want, but just control.
Having said that, I think July is going to be much more better for us because nature is booming in July. In this part of France in September it's slow down; winter is not far. Even if it's very hot, within two days we can have minus something.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah. (Laughter.)
FRANCK RIBOUD: So that's the reason why. The only thing about July is within one day you can nearly do two rounds because you can play from 7:00 to 10:15. Now, you start at 7:30, finish around 6:30. You can make the calculation. Perhaps, Mike, we will decide to increase a little bit the field. I'm not allowed to say that. Buy why not perhaps ten ladies more? Because we want to play, to make them money playing golf in the best place of the world. This is our mission.
The second one is how to increase and to help the young people. I would like to come back on the Palmer Cup. I'm going to be very nasty with my country. My country is not a golf country. Even if we have the Ryder Cup it's not a golf country. We don't have the culture. I don't care. Evian is golf country.
So we have the Junior Cup. We are very lucky. You have picture of Jordan and Justin when they were 14 years old. I met their parents. I take my mobile and say, Hey, I'm a very close friends of your kid. Remember, they were 14 years old? They look at me and think something is not working. I'm a stupid guy organize the Evian Junior Cup.
We organize the Palmer Cup and they want to come back because they love -- they were totally surprised to discover this place. We will continue. We have the AJGA even because we send some French players to Las Vegas AJGA tournament because there are a lot of coaches. Some of the French player, they don't want to be Tiger Woods. They just go to U.S. university.
So as you can see, we try to look at golf globally. This tournament and our sponsors basically are financing all these problem. Like this, we are free and we take all the decision we want not asking to anybody except the LPGA -- and the LET sometimes, which is another subject. I can spend a full day.
Now, if you have questions.
ANNA NORDQVIST: How was your golf today?
FRANCK RIBOUD: My golf. Personally, I walk. I'm still loving this game, but, you know, I have to take care. I had to take care of my wife and now I have to take care of my son. No time to play golf.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. (In French.) It's going to be to a dramatic month in France. What's going to happen next, the 1st of October?
FRANCK RIBOUD: After the Ryder Cup? I don't know. Nothing. That's all. The Evian Championship next year. I don't know about the French Open after the European Tour. I don't know. What should happen? I think we need a project for the young French player to be sure we will have a champion within five years. We have to target that. Okay, within five or ten years. We have French player, very good player. We need a champion. That's all.
So to do that, we need a plan. Golf is a statistic game. Look at what the Chinese are doing, the Swedish, the Italian. I have a plan. I propose a plan. I'm waiting the answer. But we need something.
As you know, we don't have to give back this money to the French players. We have to keep the money, but we have to put a project in front of that explaining the target. We are going to become a real golf country, because we can. We really can. Some of the people are very good. It's just a question of -- it's a management issue. Nothing else.
We want to go there. What do we have to put in place to reach the target? Perhaps you are surprised, but Dannon is not a sponsor of the Ryder Cup. Personally, I think the Ryder Cup is not building or helping to reach the objective.
I'm very happy. I congratulate every time, even because now we are very close friends. I said to him, No, I have never seen. You can tell me which sport really develop because of an event. None. It's a champion who is pushing the young people and develop the sport.
That's what Yannick Noah, Roland Garros, Jean Claude Killy, or, I don't know all the guy, and so on and so on. We need a champion. Why I am really saying that, because as a businessman I need a market. I need a golf market. The pros, they need a golf market and a teacher needs a golf market. The people producing the club, they need a golf market.
Somebody very close of mine, very close, a lady who was playing golf in the past. Somebody propose to her to develop the famous American golf brand, the not only golf, and I help her to do the businessman. I said, Tsk, tsk, tsk.
In France I will develop something with you because there is no money. We need that. How do you build a market? Increase the number of player, increase the money spent per player. Nothing very different.
So we need that. That's the reason why I'm joking about your question. I say I don't know. It's not negative or positive. I really don't know. And basically it's not my job.
Q. Do you consider that Tiger Woods could be the best ambassador for golf in France?
FRANCK RIBOUD: No, the best ambassador of golf in France is going to be the next French champion at the same level of Tiger Woods. Perhaps it's crazy, but that's the thing we have to dream about it. It could be whatever you want. We just finish 36 in the world championship; 26 with the ladies or 20 something. See? Question mark.
But we need the kids dream about a French player or French ladies, and we have. Ladies we used to have a lot. So I'm not saying people are playing bad. No, no, no. I'm totally supporting everything we do here in Evian. That's the reason why with Jacques we decide how to help our country to really think about golf.
I can ask you the question, huh? Have you done an article on the Palmer Cup? No, nothing. Nothing. It's your job. The Palmer Cup. You know what the Palmer Cup is? Ask to the American people.
It's more than 150 victory on the PGA Tour. We have the best young player of the world. Nobody from the French Federation. Nobody except Canal+ because we change and we (indiscernible) but you were not there. Tell me why, because it's your job. You were not there.
I read your newspaper. Okay? So as I said, I'm very sad to say that. But you, me, everybody, we don't have a golf culture. We have to build it. It's a small -- I don't know, 400 people but nothing else. Do we speak a lot about the Ryder Cup? The Ryder Cup, the best golf competition of the world. It's within two weeks. Have you read something in the classic newspaper? Yes? No? I don't know. I'm no more reading newspaper. Not a lot.
You agree. We have a newspaper called L'Ã‰quipe. I saw about this about the French Open last week and I read the article. The three first line were about the French; the following two sentence was about (indiscernible), and last sentence was about Evian.
The real question is what can we do together to speak more positively? We have to be positive about this game. The day you will have no more Franck Riboud and so on and so on, they are going to lose their job, huh? (Laughter.)
So perhaps we can one day put all these people in a room and discuss what we can do. Again, not my job. Could become my job.
Evian is a golf country.
JACQUES BUNGERT: And actually next year the prize money will increase and put the Evian in a nice...
FRANCK RIBOUD: So I got a lot question from journalist about the prize money, because in France we don't like money.
JACQUES BUNGERT: We don't like to talk about it.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Same in Sweden.
FRANCK RIBOUD: No, except that every day people are talking about parity between men and women. So we try -- perhaps we are crazy, but we tried to, year after year, to catch this parity between male and female. If we can be the first one, we ask Mike to push -- first of all you have to push up the US Open, huh? I will always respect the Ladies US Open.
He knows why I'm -- we did every time we have a new sponsor, because we are not there to make money. We're in there, and we keep the money for all the program we have for the kids. To do that, we need no authorization from anybody. Freedom is very important for me. I don't like rules.
Q. Congratulations for the condition of the course. This morning was really amazing.
FRANCK RIBOUD: Don't forget that this course is brand new one. We refurbished it four years ago. You need to respect the evolution of the nature. We said that. Remember the first year with the plastic on the green. We are crazy, except that we change everything within nine months.
Q. What are your plans about a men's tournament or something like that?
FRANCK RIBOUD: You know perhaps more than me about golf, except I put this cap I know a little bit more than you being on the board of Rolex. The economic model, men golf economic model is totally different than women. We will not enter the discussion, but it's not exactly the same.
Second, if one day we decided to do a male tournament, it's because we will find the natural support from sponsors who are looking for the best place, having the ability and the competence to do that.
Even if we are there, because now the big company, I don't think we will spend more, invest more. But nobody can say never.
The second thing is I'm not sure that this golf course is set up for men tournament. During the Palmer Cup we look at the young men playing there who are playing like the pro basically. Not with the same pressure, but with distance and the -- so we think we can adapt.
If we do that, that will be I don't think a European tournament, but more something to help the young players to get more money or to get more experience and to develop their expertise in that game.
So I can't say never, but there is no plan by the time. After that, I don't know if I can disclose our discussion about the golf course. We don't have -- as you know, we plan. Like in a company, we try to have a five-year plan to know what we will have to do. Basically we discuss about the 18th hole, because we discuss coming back to a par-5. Why not? We just need the drama. I think we can have a good story with this, playing from the back, back tee on the 18th. Could be interesting.
The 13 or so, do we go back to a par-4 or do we stay as a par-5? But is par-4 perhaps we play an advance to push the lady to try to reach by one. I don't know that kind of thing.
Anyway, we can make a tee 25 meter behind, to answer the previous question. The 15 tee we are going to make it much more larger. We cut some trees to get the light, because it's quite difficult to maintain the light quality.
And basically that's it. That's it. Even if now you play a little bit bad, don't forget that next year we play in July so the humidity is less. The temperature -- if that was this year, that was 32, 33 degrees in July this year.
So nothing very important.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Before going on, I know we have a player who is doing a job here and I want to let you go before. Thank you, Anna.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Thank you very much.
Q. Franck, what about the mixed bag with ladies and men like they have been trying this year? Go back to 40 men, 40 women next year in Saudi Arabia -- sorry, in the far east, Jordan. What did you think about that?
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think everything which is going to help develop golf is good idea. Having said that, personally I am a little bit old story. So first of all, I have been exposed long time ago to this mix of men and ladies because I was caddying somebody, and this somebody played a competition men and women.
Honestly, I didn't think it was a good idea. The game is different. But at this time the game was even more different than now. So for me, if I was a commissioner, and I'm not, I tried -- I'm looking for a new job. (Laughter.)
I think the priority is not there. If I was a commissioner -- and to discussion we had very often with Mike, because I'm always giving Mike my advice or what I am thinking. They do what they want, but I need to express what I think.
I think ladies golf must be the first world tour. The men will never achieve the world tour. They will always have Asia and this and that and Europe fighting with the U.S.
One day the brands will stop because the economy will not bring any return on the investment. This is my personal vision. That's the reason why I think ladies golf must (indiscernible) quickly as they decide to do the fifth major, thanks for us.
But that was a revolution. Even you. You ask question, What about the fifth major? Okay, we don't care. I think ladies, they have to build their own territory, because I think they can go much faster than the men.
If you do that, if you negotiate with the tour which is a worldwide one, the return is going to going to be worldwide return. So you are going to make the ladies golf much more competitive. You are going to begin competitiveness versus the men, especially because I have -- we are always talking about lady, but personally I have some question mark about men European.
Q. Do you have the same feeling about the recent European team championship where men and women were playing together?
FRANCK RIBOUD: Again, it's nice.
FRANCK RIBOUD: I think the priority for ladies golf is not there. Let the ladies between themselves. If there is a sponsor who wants to do something, okay, let's go.
But you will encourage stupid comparison between ladies and men and this and that. Even ladies playing men tournament, it's marketing. It's marketing. Nothing else.
So perhaps it's good. I don't know. I'm not a specialist. Ask Mike. But I'm not sure you build something for the future by doing this.
The same then to redo from 18th hole to 6th hole. I mean, it's bullshit. Sorry for my English.
As I said, I'm not in charge of golf. I'm in charge of Evian where I do what I want.
JACQUES BUNGERT: Thank you very much, and see you at academy in a minute. Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports