Sandra Gal played in the second group from the first tee on Friday

Germany’s Sandra Gal and South Korean Se Ri Pak shared the clubhouse lead early on Friday in the first round of the Evian Championship in Evian-les-Bains, France.

Both fired five-under-par 66s in warm and sunny conditions on the remodelled Evian Resort Golf Course.

The 28-year-old Gal from Dusseldorf had a flawless round with birdies on the second, third, 14th, 16th and 17th holes. “I was lucky, because I hit the hole on 14, I had a downhill putt on that par three, but that was the longest one,” said Gal, who felt that the course changes fitted her game better: “I did not play well here before. They made the course a little bit longer, which suits me as a longer hitter as well as hitting creative shots into the greens so I’m pleased about these changes.”

Pak, a five time major champion, had six birdies and one dropped shot in her 66, having started at the 10th.  

The 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko from New Zealand, who could become the youngest ever winner of a major this week, posted a three-under-par round of 68 after sinking a birdie putt on the ninth, her last hole. Hee-Won Han and Angela Stanford ended on two-under-par.

Spain’s Azahara Munoz, a member of Europe’s victorious Solheim Cup team in Colorado a month ago, began well with a one-under-par 70 to sit alongside Il Hee Lee.

The 25-year-old Munoz, from San Pedro del Alcantara near Malaga, said: “I was two over through six and I came back after that so I’m very happy with that and it feels good to be under par in a major.”

She approved of the course changes, adding: “The course is pretty wet but today was so nice and its beautiful here. I think we’re all super happy to be back.”

Elsewhere, Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord opened with a steady level par 71 early in the day.