Golf: Park grabs first-round lead at Evian Championship

Park (above, in a file photo) shot an eight under par 63 to lead. PHOTO: AFP

EVIAN, France (AFP) - Park Sung Hyun led the Evian Championship on Friday (Sept 15), 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 and shot an eight under par 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, Park led by two shots from Thailand's Moriya Jutanugarn with Australian Katherine Kirk, 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, Park 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-year-old 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 par 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 b;lowing 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.

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