EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) — Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn and teenage American Yealimi Noh posted 6-under 65s to share the first-round lead at the Evian Championship on Thursday.
Noh’s day began perfectly when she carded an eagle on the first hole. Her momentum was checked by a bogey on No. 4 but she birdied holes 6 and 7 and three more on the back nine.
“It is the first time I’ve started a tournament with an eagle. Both of my playing partners stuck it and I was like ‘I hope I stick it too, I don’t want to be left out,'” the 19-year-old Noh said. “I wanted to finish good and take the advantage of that early start.”
The consistent Pajaree had three birdies on the way out and three on the way back to the clubhouse.
“I made some really good putts that were not easy,” she said. “I focused on the speed and what I have been working on, and it worked out pretty well.”
They hold a one-stroke lead over a group of five: Ayaka Furue of Japan, Lauren Stephenson of the U.S., 18-year-old Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, Jeongeun Lee6 of South Korea, and Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark.
Pedersen had two eagles on the par-5 ninth and 18th holes.
“It’s a good start to the tournament, I holed a lot of good putts and a chip today,” Pedersen said. “I have been struggling with my putting, so it’s really positive to see that I’ve found something good going forward.”
Australian Sarah Kemp, South Korean Hyo Joo Kim — the Women’s World Championship winner in May — and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn shot 67s.
Meanwhile, new world No. 1 Nelly Korda endured a rough start to her bid for a second major title when she posted a 3-over 74.
The American, who won the Women’s PGA Championship last month to move to No. 1, had five bogeys and made only her second birdie on the 17th hole.
Meanwhile, defending champion Jin Young Ko fared little better, shooting a 1-over 72. Ko had five bogeys against birdies on holes 6, 7, 9 and 18.
Korda is a six-time LPGA Tour winner and the first American at No. 1 in the women’s world ranking since 2014.
Her older sister, Jessica, finished one shot ahead on 73 at the picturesque Evian Resort on the shore of Lake Geneva in the French Alps.
Ko won at Evian in 2019 but the event was canceled last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have seen my picture everywhere, so I was thinking, ‘Wow, that was just two years ago but feels like it was five years ago,'” Ko said.
She teed off shortly after 8 a.m. along with former champions Anna Nordqvist (2017) and Angela Stanford (2018).
Stanford had a 1-under 70 and Nordqvist held par.
Seven-time major winner Inbee Park also made par.
The third-ranked Park is chasing the only major she has not won. She won Evian in 2012, but that was the year before it became a major, and Park has not placed higher than eighth ever since.
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