Eagle finish leaves Reid two off pace after a change of approach
Five-under first round keeps Creamer in sight Traumatic year appears to be turning around
Melissa Reid has endured a year of professional and personal upheaval. Yet the many changes seemed to be benefiting the Derby golfer as she ended the first day of the Evian Championship at five under par, just two shots behind leader Paula Creamer.
Reid, 31, is building momentum in the majors, as she tied for third at the Women’s PGA Championship having failed to make the cut in four out of the five majors in 2018.
After shooting an exquisite bunker shot into the 18th green to give her an eagle, she explained the shift in her mental approach.
“My mindset just changed,” she said. “It’s very easy to say it has changed but difficult to do. It’s very hard to not think about missing cuts when you’re missing cuts. It’s very hard to try and not make a mistake.”
Reid then added with a laugh: “I went into the PGA thinking I could win it. I had a bet I was going to finish top five, which is stupid.”
As she scored a 66 in difficult conditions, with temperatures upwards of 93F (34C) on the banks of Lake Geneva, it looked as if she had rediscovered a joie de vivre.
In 2012, Reid’s mother, Joy, died in a car crash as she drove to watch her daughter compete in a tour event in Germany, plunging Reid into a dark period.
Her public coming out as gay last year, combined with a move from the UK to the golfing enclave of Jupiter, Florida – also home to Rory Mcilroy and Rickie Fowler – seems to have rejuvenated her. As has a complete overhaul of her team, including appointing close friend Brittany Hamilton.
She said: “I just made a whole bunch of changes. I knew it was going to take a while to kind of catch up to it, and hopefully I’m doing it at the right time of the season.
“I changed coach middle of last year to Jorge Parada. He’s awesome. I’ve never seen someone with a work ethic like that. He’s almost too much. But he brought something out in me. He really taught me what work ethic is and how to make changes in your golf swing, to be uncomfortable and stuff.”
As well as her noticeable confidence around the Evian course, which has the Alps as a stunning background, Reid was self-assured enough to be open about the inequalities between the men’s and women’s games.
Unlike the bulk of the competition, she opted to wear a plain white baseball cap, as she is unwilling to sport a brand that will not fully support her. Many female players will still wear hats or visors with branding of companies who do not provide all their equipment.
“I’m not going to wear someone’s hat if they’re not willing to support me. I’m quite happy with it being blank,” Reid said, adding there were “a lot” of brands that she would rather not wear.
The next best of the Britons was 23-year-old Charley Hull, who did not drop a shot in her three-under 68 despite the dry undulating greens and gnarly rough.
Meanwhile, reigning Women’s British Open champion Georgia Hall cut a frustrated figure as she bogeyed the final two holes to finish on two under par. At least she had the support of her boyfriend, Harry, acting as her caddie.
She seemed to struggle on the greens in the afternoon compared with the softer terrain Reid would have dealt with in the morning. Fatigue was also a factor as it took six hours for her to complete her round due to slow play in earlier groups.
Another Englishwoman, Meghan Maclaren, also finished at two under. Bronte Law and Annabel Dimmock will be anxious about the cut after both ending the day one over, while Laura Davies was three over.
Momentum: Melissa Reid drives on her way to a round of 66 on the opening day of the Evian Championship in France