Buckle up, Ayaka Furue. A who’s who of women’s golf — Nelly Korda, Brooke Henderson, Jin Young Ko and Lydia Ko, among others — is lurking behind you, and 54 holes are ahead at the Evian Championship. Then again, maybe it’s them who should be concerned. After all, consider this exchange between Furue and a reporter after her first round:
Reporter: “What did you work on ahead of this week knowing what you know about this golf course, all the sidehill lies, slopey greens? What were you working on to prepare for this week?”
Furue: “I didn’t particularly work on anything.”
And that says everything. It’s all clicking. Here, then, are three things you need to know after Thursday’s play at Evian Resort Golf Club in France.
Ayaka Furue leads
Through four holes, Furue was one-over. She then played her next eight holes at six-under, finished with an eight-under 63 and leads by one over Henderson and Korda.
Furue, a 22-year-old who’s won seven times on the LPGA of Japan Tour and is playing her first season on the LPGA Tour, finished fourth at the Evian last year, shooting no worse than a 68 over the course of the event.
“I like the course, and with the good vibes from last year I thought I would play good, and I played very well today,” she said.
Nelly Korda and Brooke Henderson are one back
Korda, in her fifth event since her return from blood clot surgery, shot a bogey-free 64. Notably, on the 18th hole (her ninth of the day after starting on the back nine), Korda was able to save par after hitting her third shot from a marsh near the green.
Had Korda ever hit from that type of area before?
“Never, and I must say, it’s very slimy on the bottom,” she said. “Does not feel very good.”
Also shooting 64 was Henderson, who eagled her closing hole, the par-5 9th.
“The eagle on the last hole was definitely a bonus,” she said. “I had just bogeyed the previous hole and it was a super long putt and it was going pretty hard. To have this drop, definitely a bonus. Got me to the seven-under, which is a nice way to finish.
“I just feel like it’s a really great feeling to start the major championship with a solid round. I feel like I haven’t really done that this year, so feels good to get one here.”
Jin Young Ko and Lydia Ko are three behind
Two behind Furue, after an eight-birdie 65, is Cheyenne Knight, and Jin Young Ko, Lydia Ko, Charley Hull, Perrine Delacour and Yuna Nishimura are three back of the lead after 66s.