Ko in tie for eighth
AFTER a false start at the Evian Championship, Lydia Ko’s first round got underway on Friday night (NZT), and her fortune changed.
Former world No 1 Ko carded a bogey-free three-under 68 as the fifth women’s golf major of the season restarted in France, to sit in a tie for eighth, five strokes off the lead.
Rain and strong winds forced the organisers to abandon the first round, and reduce the final major of the year to 54 holes.
Ko was one of the few players to get any play in on Thursday, and had been one-over after four holes when she was forced from the course at the Evian Resort Golf Club, which overlooks Lake Geneva.
Given a second chance on Friday, the Kiwi golfer began in solid fashion, and was two-under after her first nine holes, starting on the par-four 10th.
Ko, the 2015 winner at Evian, had birdies on the 12th and 14th holes, before getting to threeunder at the par-four first, finishing with eight straight pars.
‘‘Yeah, it was overall really solid,’’ Ko said. ‘‘I gave myself a lot of looks for birdies, especially on my back nine, but I just wasn’t making many putts.
‘‘But hey, I’ll take 3-under for the first round.
‘‘It was really solid, and hopefully it’s good momentum going into tomorrow.
‘‘It was fun, and it’s great to see the fans kind of join us as we went through to the first hole.’’
It was an accurate day for Ko, hitting 10 of 13 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation, while requiring 29 putts.
With the reduction from 72 holes to 54, the cut will be made after the second round on Saturday night/Sunday morning (NZT).
Ko is chasing her first tournament win in over a year, and is coming off a second-place finish at the Indy Women in Tech Championship last weekend.
A new day, a fresh start to the final women’s major of the season, and it seemed like a new Sung Hyun Park showed up on Friday (Saturday NZT).
Seizing a second chance to play the first round at the Evian Championship, Park fired an eightunder 63 to lead by two shots from Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand.
That meant a 14-shot turnaround in fortunes for the No 3-ranked South Korean. She had been six-over through just five holes in the rain and wind on Thursday before play was abandoned and all scores wiped from the record.
Park, the US Women’s Open champion, regrouped and had seven birdies and an eagle.
‘‘I forgot about yesterday and just focused on my play today,’’ Park said through a translator, acknowledging she was ‘‘surprised’’ that the LPGA scrapped Thursday’s play.
Tied for third, three shots back, Australia’s Katherine Kirk and Anna Nordqvist of Sweden both carded a 66. Jessica Korda of the United States and Women’s British Open winner In-Kyung Kim were a further shot back on four-under.
Park played in a stellar group with top-ranked So Yeon Ryu (75), her fellow South Korean, and No 2 Lexi Thompson (70) of the US.
Ryu suffered a six-shot swing having been two-under and sharing the lead with Korda on Thursday when play stopped.
Kirk, playing in the first group on course for a second straight day, said the weather just before the suspension on Thursday had been ‘‘the worst conditions I have ever seen.’’
Jutanugarn and Nordqvist were in the late-starting groups and never had to endure the 70kph gusts and driving rain one STUART FRANKLIN/GETTY IMAGES day earlier.
Another player to seize their second chance in cool sunshine on Friday was Ai Miyazato of Japan, playing her final event before retiring.
Miyazato, the 2009 and 2011 Evian winner before it had major status, was in a cluster of players at three-under, trailing Park by five, including Sophia Schubert, the US Women’s Amateur champion.
‘‘Right now, nothing to lose and no fear, and just feel joy of my game, and that’s definitely helping,’’ said the 32-year-old Miyazato, who had made a threeover start to Thursday.
English veteran Laura Davies, who won the last of her four majors 21 years ago, shot a 2-under 69 that included six birdies and four bogeys.
‘ It was fun, and it’s great to see the fans kind of join us as we went through to the first hole.’’’ LYDIA KO
Lydia Ko has had a solid start at the Evian Championship.