(Reuters) – South Korean Park Sung-hyun took full advantage of the ultimate mulligan by grabbing the first-round lead of the Evian Championship in France on Friday after bad weather wiped out her poor start a day earlier.
The U.S. Women’s Open champion mixed seven birdies with an eagle and bogey for an eight-under-par 63 to take a two-shot lead over Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn in Evian-les-Bains.
Park made a nightmarish start to the women’s final major of the year on Thursday when she was six over through five holes in wind and rain but the LPGA wiped away first-round scores after a weather suspension and shortened the championship to 54 holes.
“When I usually don’t play well, I just try to do better and focus on the game, and that’s what I‘m hoping for every round, and that’s what I‘m going to keep on doing and focus on the game,” said Park.
The 23-year-old Korean, who began her quest for her third win of the season on the back nine at the Evian Resort Golf Club, went out in 30 with four birdies and a chip in for eagle at the par-five 13th hole.
“The distance was 25 meters, so I was deciding whether I‘m going to do chipping or putting, and I think after I made the shot, I was surprised, as well,” Park said about her eagle.
Swede Anna Nordqvist and Australia’s Katherine Kirk were three shots back of Park while Women’s British Open champion Kim In-kyung, Jessica Korda and Marina Alex were a further shot back.
Korda, who was two under through eight holes in difficult conditions on Thursday, was pleased to return to a course that was much more playable.
“You can’t even compare. Yesterday the last couple holes we felt like we were playing in a hurricane,” said Korda.
“This golf course is not something that you want to come in with a low ball flight. You need to be able to hit it high to stop them in the right areas and so obviously today that was possible and yesterday was a bit tough.”
Defending champion Chun In-gee was seven shots back after mixing four birdies with three bogeys for a one-under-par 70.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; editing by Gene Cherry