The US Women’s Open champion, Sung Hyun Park, took advantage of a fresh start at the Evian Championship on Friday as she fired an opening round of eight-under-par 63 to take a two-stroke lead over Moriya Jutanugarn.
Play was cancelled on Thursday due to adverse weather and all scores were erased, reducing the tournament to a 54-hole event with a re-start on Friday morning.
Park, the world number three who also won the Canadian Open last month, had been last on the leader board, on six-over-par after eight holes, having taken a triple and a quintuple bogey nine on the fourth hole, when first round play was suspended on Thursday.
It was a different story on Friday as she made seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey on a soft golf course, effectively gaining 14 strokes from where she had left off on Thursday morning.
Her Irish caddie, David Jones, who worked for fellow Korean In Gee Chun when she won the Evian Championship 12 months ago, quipped: “I’m going to buy a lottery ticket tonight!”
When asked if she was happy that yesterday’s scores were wiped out, the poker-faced Park said, through a translator: “To be honest, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised, but what I did was I just wanted to focus on my game today and go on.”
Park certainly appeared to have regained her focus. She started with birdies on the 10th and 12th before chipping in for eagle on the par 5 13th and added two further birdies on the 15th and 17th in a back nine of 30.
On her front nine, she birdied the second, bogeyed the fourth and made further gains at the seventh and ninth holes, coming in with 33.
The recent Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic champion, Katherine Kirk, shot a five-under-par 66 early in the day and was later joined by Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist in a share of third. Nordqvist was moving along steadily but hit the gas when she holed her third shot for eagle on the long 15th and then made a birdie on the short 16th.
Jessica Korda, Marina Alex and In-Kyung Kim, the Ricoh Women’s British Open champion, share fifth position on four-under-par. England’s Georgia Hall lies in joint eighth place in a group on three-under alongside Ai Miyazato, Ayako Uehara, the 2015 champion, Lydia Ko, Mi Jung Hur, Austin Ernst, Ryann O’Toole and the US Amateur champion Sophia Schubert, 21, from Tennessee.
Hall started with two birdies on the back nine at the fourth and sixth holes, against a bogey on 14 and added three more at the fourth, fifth and seventh, before making a second bogey at the par-3 eighth.
“My chipping was really good today, which I’m very happy about. I holed some really good putts, but I also missed a couple of short ones. But I managed to kind of keep in there,” said Hall, who is making her first appearance in the Evian Championship. Commenting on the golf course, she said: “It’s playing quite long, but the fairways are very soft and the greens, as well, so you can attack a few more pins. I thought the pins were actually quite tough for the first day. They were tucked into some very difficult positions. “I normally play well on tight golf courses. That’s what I’ve always said since I was about 13, and this is definitely quite tight. There are some really tricky holes out there, so I just wanted to see how today went, but I managed to shoot a good score.”
Dame Laura Davies opened with a two-under 69 and is tied for 16th in a group including Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng and Juli Inkster.
The second round gets under way on Saturday at 7.45am, ahead of a cut to the leading 70 players and those tied.