Lexi Thompson of the United States and Mi Hyang Lee of Korea fired a matching pair of five under par 66s to share the lead on day one of the Evian Championship, the final Major of 2015.
Thompson made a spectacular start, picking up five shots in four holes from the 12th, including an eagle on the par-5 13th.
Lee, the winner of the 2014 New Zealand Women’s Open, joined her with seven birdies against two bogeys on the Evian Resort Golf Course in Haute Savoie, France.
The pair are one stroke clear of Eun-Hee Ji of South Korea, Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum and Gerina Piller of the United States. A stroke further back on three under par 68 are last week’s Helsingborg Open champion Nicole Broch Larsen from Denmark, the recent ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters winner Beth Allen from the USA, Australian Minjee Lee, China’s Shanshan Feng and South Korean Sei Young Kim.
Thompson finished second at the 2010 Evian Masters as a 15-year-old amateur and was third in 2013, so has good memories of the location.
The 2014 Kraft Nabisco Champion, due to make her second Solheim Cup appearance next week in Germany, commented: “I’m definitely pretty happy with my first round. I had a good stretch on my first nine on the back nine there and made a few birdies and an eagle, so helped out with the scorecard. But, yeah, overall very exciting ride.”
Broch Larsen, who is playing in the Evian Championship for the first time, began her second Major with a birdie on the second and she made the turn at three under after a rolling in a putt of 11 metres for eagle on the par-5 ninth. Although she made bogey on hole-10, she recovered by making a short one metre putt for birdie on the par-3 16th.
“I played very good today, very solid, and when I missed the green I made some great up and downs,” said Broch Larsen. “Actually I missed a few short ones for birdies but minus three is a nice start. I hit a good drive, 5 wood to 11 metres and made that one.”
Allen, who is also making her Evian debut, started from the 10th hole and bogeyed the 12th before picking up birdies on 13, 16 and 17 on the back nine. She bogeyed the first, but made two more birdies on six and nine.
Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall is the top ranked European Solheim Cup team member after she shot a solid two under par 69 to sit in a share of 12th place.
She said: “I struggled a little bit last week in Sweden on the greens, and I felt like I made a couple more putts today. It just feels good to see a couple roll in. Hopefully there can be some more in the coming days. But I’m happy with the red number today. I played really well from tee to green, but at least I made three-putts today. So I’m happy with that. I had a lot of good looks, but last week I didn’t make a single putt, so today I made three, so that’s going forward.”
Fellow Solheim Cup player Charley Hull fired an opening one under par 70 and she said: “I’m happy. I felt like I played well. I had nothing that went in today apart from my eagle putt on nine, so I was a bit frustrated because I could have birdied the last three holes and they all lipped out.”