Surprise leader? Lydia Ko’s return? Here’s what you missed at the Evian Championship
The Evian Championship is officially underway in France. Here’s what you missed during Round 1 of the fourth women’s major of the year.
Lydia Ko’s week?
2023 has been far from what Lydia Ko expected. Just a year removed from winning three times, returning to world No. 1 and being named LPGA Player of the Year, Ko is yet again in the midst of a slump. With zero wins and just one top 10 on the season, the 26-year-old is searching for answers on the course.
During the opening round at the Evian, Ko took an important step in that direction. With a bogey-free 66, Ko carded five birdies on her way to posting the second-lowest round of the day.
“All in all it was solid,” she said. “Even though things may not be 100%, I think that’s part of the game. You’re trying to shoot the best score you can.”
Ko has yet to finish inside the top 10 at a major in 2023 after doing so in the last three majors last summer. But if she keeps up the momentum she built on Thursday, she’ll have her sights set on not only a high finish, but perhaps the third major title of her career.
Stars still in it
The oldest cliche in golf says that you can’t win a tournament on Thursday, but you sure can lose it. And, lucky for many of the game’s top stars, they did not play themselves out of the championship in Round 1.
Jin Young Ko and Nelly Korda, ranked 1 and 2 in the Rolex Rankings, each fired rounds of one-under 70 to sit six shots back after Day 1, while Ko sits at T2. The latest American major winners — Lilia Vu and Allisen Corpuz — each posted even-par 71s as they seek to become the first female golfers to win multiple majors in the same year since 2019.
Rookie sensation Rose Zhang also finds herself squarely in the mix through 18 holes as she carded a two-under 69 on Thursday. Her six-birdie round gets her off to a solid start as she looks to bounce back after missing the first cut of her career two weeks ago at the Dana Open.
Paula Reto has missed the cut in five out of her last six major starts, but you never would’ve known if you watched her on Thursday. The 33-year-old posted a seven-under 64 at Evian Resort Golf Club in Round 1 to hold the lead by two strokes after 18 holes.
“I had so much fun,” Reto said. “Just gave myself opportunities. One birdie dropped and you sort of try to do the same thing over and over and just put yourself in good spots.”
Reto did that time and time again on Thursday as she carded eight birdies and just one bogey to race out to the early lead.
“You never know out here with this golf course. Anything is possible,” she said. “You just got to give yourself the best opportunity to make par and birdie.”
Reto is looking to become the fourth first-time major winner this season, and the fifth in a row dating back to last season. If she can replicate her performance from Thursday, she’ll be well on her way to a Cinderella story victory.