Puerto Rico’s Maria Torres and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda each shot 6-under-par 65 on Thursday for a share of the first-round lead at the Evian Championship, the fifth and final major championship on the LPGA Tour in 2018.
The Evian Championship is held at the Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, France. Last year’s event was controversially cut to 54 holes due to inclement weather.
Ciganda played bogey-free with six birdies on the day, while Torres, a rookie, carded an eagle to help offset two bogeys in her round.
American Austin Ernst is in sole possession of third place at 5 under. South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu, Canada’s Brooke Henderson and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka are tied for fourth another stroke back.
South Korea’s Inbee Park and England’s Georgia Hall headline a group of 10 tied for seventh at 3 under.
Top-ranked Sung Hyun Park of South Korea shot a disastrous 6-over 77 and is tied for 97th in the 120-player field.
Torres has finished in the top 10 at only two tournaments in her debut season, last accomplishing the feat at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic in July. She has missed the cut in nine of her last 12 Tour starts.
“It’s exciting,” Torres said of being in the mix at a major. “Like you never thought that in a year you got your card and, I don’t know, like all these things happened and it went good. I’m thankful. I feel like I’m grateful for all the opportunities we get — well, I get in this moment.”
Torres carded her two bogeys against three birdies on the front nine. She caught fire on the back, where she went birdie-birdie-eagle from Nos. 13-15 and finished with another birdie on 18.
“I was just going shot by shot and just playing and, I don’t know, they went in,” she said. “I don’t know. I’m just keeping calm.”
Ciganda, meanwhile, has two Tour wins under her belt, last claiming a title at the Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November 2016. She made the turn at 3 under and carded birdies on her last two holes, Nos. 8 and 9, for her share of the lead.
“It was very solid day today,” Ciganda said. “Very solid from the start. I played really good on the par-5s, 3 under. And then I felt like I played very good tee-to-green. My putts were really good, too.”
Ernst gained sole possession of third with a birdie on her final hole, No. 9. She had an eagle on the par-5 13th and overcame two bogeys during her career-best 66.
Ryu, No. 3 in the world rankings, had six birdies and two bogeys in her round. She birdied four out of five holes from Nos. 6-10, with one of her bogeys coming on No. 8 and the other to finish her round on 18.
“I feel like I really had a lot of great shots, and even though I couldn’t make all of them, I had a really great putt as well,” Ryu said. “So I feel really comfortable to heading into the second round tomorrow.”
Hataoka also had two bogeys during her round, while Henderson managed just one and played the back nine at a clean 4-under 32.
Inbee Park, ranked No. 4, had three bogeys against six birdies in her round. Hall played bogey-free.
Sung Hyun Park had just one birdie in her round, on No. 17. She bogeyed seven holes, including three in a four-hole stretch from Nos. 1-5 to begin her round, and was never able to rebound.
“Nothing went well,” she said. “Overall it wasn’t really good. It didn’t go well as I expected.”
Defending champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden shot even par and is part of a group tied for 24th that also includes Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn.
–Field Level Media