Leona Maguire plots steady course with opening 69 at Evian Championships

Stephanie Meadow has a more rollercoaster day with level-par 71

Leona Maguire runs to follow the line of her third shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the  Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club  in Evian-les-Bains, France. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Leona Maguire runs to follow the line of her third shot on the 14th hole during the first round of the Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club in Evian-les-Bains, France. Photograph: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

 

Leona Maguire, quite literally, didn’t put a foot wrong in getting off to a solid start in the Amundi Evian Championship at the upmarket resort on the shore of Lake Geneva in France, where the 26-year-old Co Cavan golfer signed for a two-under-par 69 in the fourth Major of the 2021 women’s professional schedule.

On a day when world number one Nelly Korda, who secured a breakthrough success in the KPMG PGA only last month, struggled to justify favouritism and faces an uphill battle to survive the midway cut after opening with a 74, Maguire sure-footedly negotiated the layout at the foot of the Alps with a bogey-free round that saw birdies at the Pa- 5 ninth and 15th holes.

Maguire, currently ranked 60th in the world, is kick-starting a busy schedule away from the United States that is also taking in the Olympics in Tokyo in a fortnight’s time followed by LPGA Tour-counting events, the Scottish Open and the AIG Women’s Open.

In contrast, Stephanie Meadow – who will be accompanying Maguire to the Olympics – had a hugely adventurous level-par 71 opening round, which featured five birdies along with three birdies and a double bogey.

The clubhouse lead was claimed by Thailand’s Pagaree Anannarakarn and American Yealim Noh who each signed for 65s. But it proved to be an altogether tougher assignment for the in-form Korda, twice a winner in recent months, at the Meijer Classic and the PGA, who struggled in a round where she managed just one birdie to go with five bogeys.

As Lydia Ko, a past champion and currently 10th in the world rankings described the challenge after an opening 68: “I think my driver went 100 yards off the tee on the first, and I hadn’t done that before. I’ve hit it in some wild spots around here and I’ve also hit some really good ones . . . I think you just have to be smart.

“At the end of the day it is a Major championship, so it’s not going to be super easy. Sometimes a bogey, if that’s the worst thing that’s going to happen, it’s not really the worst-case scenario. It’s just being smart, but at the same time when you’ve got the green light, be aggressive with it.”

Noh, for her part, got off to a flying start when holing out her 9-iron approach shot from 126 yards for an eagle two on the Par-4 opening hole: “I think it’s the first time I’ve ever done that. I was just like, ‘what?’ It was really cool!”

Seeking her first win on the LPGA Tour, the 19-year-old American – who made headlines for the wrong reasons earlier this season when fined for slow play at the Kia Classic – added of her strong start: “I hit a lot of greens, made a few good putts and just played really consistent. No big errors, just fairway, green, putting. It’s always easier said but it was good.”

Leaderboard

British and Irish unless stated, par 71

65 Pajaree Anannarukarn (Tha), Yealimi Noh (USA)

66 Jeon-Geun Lee (Kor), Ayaka Furue (Jpn), Emily Kristine Pedersen (Den), Atthaya Thitikul (Tha), Lauren Stephenson (USA)

67 Hyo-Joo Kim (Kor), Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha), Sarah Kemp (Aus)

68 Pauline Bouchard (Fra), Tsubasa Kajitani (Jpn), Maria Fassi (Mex), Lydia Ko (Nzl), Min-Jee Lee (Aus), Moriya Jutanugarn (Tha), Ind-Gee Chun (Kor), Matilda Castren (Fin), Pia Babnik (Slo), Celine Palomar-Herbin (Fra), Lindsey Weaver (USA), Paula Reto (Rsa)

69 Lucie Malchirand (Fra), Brooke Henderson (Can), Som-Yeon Ryu (Kor), Austin Ernst (USA), Sophia Popov (Ger), Brittany Lang (USA), (Geo) Hall , Cheyenne Knight (USA), Madelene Sagstroem (Swe), Leona Maguire, Celine Boutier (Fra), Ashleigh Buhai (Rsa), Mina Harigae (USA), Kristen Gillman (USA), Muni He (Chn), Alena Sharp (Can)

70 Angela Stanford (USA), Hee-Young Park (Kor), Anne van Dam (Ned), Esther Henseleit (Ger), Jenny Shin (Kor), Charley Hull, Wichanee Meechai (Tha), Chella Choi (Kor), Eun-Hee Ji (Kor), Cydney Clanton (USA), Marina Alex (USA), Alison Lee (USA), Bronte Law, Pornanong Phatlum (Tha), Elizabeth Szokol (USA), Jeong-Eun Lee (Kor), Jennifer Song (USA),

71 Brooke Matthews (USA), Ind-Bee Park (Kor), Sei-Young Kim (Kor), Amy Olson (USA), Anna Nordqvist (Swe), Pernilla Lindberg (Swe), Olivia Cowan (Ger), Aline Krauter (Ger), Amy Yang (Kor), Brittany Altomare (USA), Ryann O’Toole (USA), Gerina Piller (USA), Thidapa Suwannapura (Tha), Azahara Munoz (Esp), Christina Kim (USA), Lindy Duncan (USA), Jennifer Chang (USA), Hae-Ji Kang (Kor), Dottie Ardina (Phi), Stephanie Meadow

72 Jin-Young Ko (Kor), Mi-Rim Lee (Kor), A-Lim Kim (Kor), Christine Wolf (Aut), Alice Hewson, Lee-Anne Pace (Rsa), Rose Zhang (USA), Giulia Molinaro (Ita), Ana Belac (Slo), Jaye Marie Green (USA), Emma Talley (USA), Jodi Ewart

73 Jessica Korda (USA), Lizette Salas (USA), Jennifer Kupcho (USA), Natalie Gulbis (USA), Stephanie Kyriacou (Aus), Morgane Metraux (Swi), Angel Yin (USA), Caroline Masson (Ger), Perrine Delacour (Fra), Katherine Kirk (Aus), Su-Hyun Oh (Aus)

74 Nelly Korda (USA), Carlota Ciganda (Esp), Sung-Hyun Park (Kor), Megan Khang (USA), Mi-Jung Hur (Kor), Wei Ling Hsu (Tai), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Den), Min Lee (Tai)

75 Paula Creamer (USA), Carly Booth, Sanna Nuutinen (Fin), Leonie Harm (Ger), Jennifer Coleman (USA), Mi-Hyang Lee (Kor), Marissa Steen (USA), Daniela Holmqvist (Swe), Aditi Ashok (Ind)

76 Ally Ewing (USA), Brittany Lincicome (USA), Yu Liu (Chn), Sarah Schmelzel (USA), Dana Finkelstein (USA)

77 Natalie Srinivasan (USA), Albane Valenzuela (Swi), Ssu-Chia Cheng (Tai)

78 Nicole Broch Larsen (Den)

79 Luna Sobron (Esp)

84 Jing Yan (Chn)

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