Sung-hyun shines bright­est af­ter rain at Evian Cham­pi­onship

The Star Malaysia - - Sport -

EVIAN (France): Park Sung-hyun led the Evian Cham­pi­onship, just 24 hours af­ter Thurs­day’s play was wiped out by heavy rain and fierce winds with the South Korean star stranded at six over af­ter six holes.

Start­ing afresh, the US Women’s Open Champion made the most of the re­prieve on Fri­day and shot an eight un­der 63 to lead af­ter the first round of the women’s fi­nal Ma­jor of the sea­son.

With seven birdies and a chip-in ea­gle at the 13th, Sung-hyun led by two shots from Thai­land’s Moriya Ju­tanu­garn with Aus­tralian Kather­ine Kirk and Swe­den’s Anna Nordqvist on 66.

Sophia Schu­bert, the US Women’s Am­a­teur champion, made her mark play­ing along­side the pro­fes­sion­als with an im­pres­sive open­ing 68, two bet­ter than de­fend­ing champion Chun In-gee and seven ahead of world No. 1 Ryu So-yeon.

In Thurs­day’s foul con­di­tions, Sunghyun made a quin­tu­ple bo­gey nine at the 11th (her se­cond hole) and a six at the par three 14th. Two holes later, play was stopped.

Sev­eral hours later, the LPGA made the de­ci­sion to aban­don day one and make it a 54-hole Cham­pi­onship.

“I was lucky,” ad­mit­ted the 23-yearold South Korean. “I was able to for­get yes­ter­day and just fo­cus on to­day. I would be ly­ing if I didn’t say I was sur­prised the scores were wiped out.

“I wasn’t feel­ing too good about my game when I started to­day, but I played great. Putted well and I am de­lighted with the score.”

Play­ing in her fi­nal tour­na­ment be­fore re­tire­ment, Ja­pan’s Ai Miyazato made a great start with a 68.

She won the ti­tle in 2009 and 2011 – it be­came a Ma­jor in 2013.

“I chipped in for birdie at the first hole, so that was a good start,” she said.

“I’m just en­joy­ing the joy of play­ing the game right now. Doesn’t re­ally feel like my last tour­na­ment.”

Laura Davies, an­other two-time win­ner be­fore the event be­came a Ma­jor, is now a 53-year-old vet­eran.

She was four over for eight holes on Thurs­day, but shot a two un­der 69 to raise hopes of maybe mak­ing it win num­ber three at Evian.

“Wip­ing out yes­ter­day’s play was the fairest thing to do,” in­sisted the Bri­tish player.

“I was sur­prised. The LPGA are not al­ways fair. But I re­ally thought it was un­playable. We had branches blow­ing ev­ery­where. I was quite scared and some­one could have got hurt.”

Amer­i­can Paula Creamer, the 2005 win­ner at Evian, had to pull out with a wrist in­jury that had started to cause trou­ble ear­lier in the week.

She was on the fourth hole when she hit a shot, dropped her club and dou­bled up in agony.

She was in tears at hav­ing to with­draw, partly be­cause she was play­ing with her good friend, Miyazato.

“One of the big­gest com­pli­ments I’ve ever been paid was her ask­ing to play with me in her fi­nal tour­na­ment. But I’ll be there when she fin­ishes on the fi­nal green on Sun­day.”

Moriya made her move with an out­ward 30, ending the half with three straight birdies. She also birdied the 18th from three feet to sneak into se­cond place.

The Thai golfer, whose younger sis­ter, Ariya, won the 2016 Women’s Bri­tish Open, has never won on Tour.

“But I reckon if I keep knock­ing on the door, one day it will be my turn,” she said. — AFP

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