EVIAN (France) • American golfer Lexi Thompson carded a flawless five-under 66 to share the first-round lead with South Korea's Lee Mi Hyang at the Evian Championship on Thursday.
Thompson, who first played in the event as a 15-year-old in 2010, and Lee, who only has one win on the LPGA Tour, are a shot ahead of South Korean Ji Eun Hee, Thailand's Phatlum Pornanong and American Gerina Piller.
New Zealand's world No. 2 Lydia Ko, in her final attempt to become the youngest winner of a women's Major, was handily placed on 69, but world No. 1 Park In Bee had to settle for a 72.
Starting from the 10th tee, Thompson, already a Major champion at last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship, surged into the lead with a superb run of birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie from the 12th.
"It feels great to have a stretch of holes like that in a Major championship. I hit good shots off the tee and made the putts," the 20-year-old said.
With the Solheim Cup taking place in Germany next week, Thompson, a member of Team USA, is aware of the importance of a perfect warm-up.
"These are two really big weeks," said Thompson, who hopes to stop Europe making it three wins in a row. "The Solheim Cup was my No. 1 goal this season. To be on the team and represent my country is a big deal.
"But you have to focus on the Evian Championship. I have great memories of this place and I always love coming back."
Lee was delighted with her form, after making seven birdies to join Thompson at the top.
"I played and putted well," said the 22-year-old, who enjoyed her only professional win in last year's Mizuno Classic in Japan.
Ko, runner-up to Suzann Pettersen in 2013, was reasonably content with her opening round.
"I left a couple of shots out there," said the 18-year-old, who finished joint-eighth last year.
"But it was a solid start and hopefully I can have a slightly better score tomorrow. The course is quite dry, but that can't be helped after the exceptionally warm summer they have had here."
Ko was in the star grouping alongside Park and world No. 3 Stacy Lewis (73), and was the only one to finish under par.
Park, bidding for a third Major of the year, had her ups and downs with three birdies and four bogeys. "I'm a little bit disappointed but I'm not out of it," said the 27-year-old.