Ko in tie for eighth

Sunday News - - SPORT - GOLF

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.

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