Georgia Hall three behind after solid opening round at Evian
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 14/09/18 7:07pm
Georgia Hall made a fine start to her bid for back-to-back major victories as she fired a bogey-free 68 on day one of the Evian Championship.
Hall's Solheim Cup team-mate, Carlota Ciganda, birdied her last two holes to earn a share of the first-round lead with Maria Torres, while Hall is among nine players just three shots off the lead as only 34 players managed to break the par of 71.
Defending champion Anna Nordqvist is six off the pace after day one with Charley Hull one further behind, but world No 1 Sung Hyun Park endured a torrid opening day at Evian-les-Bains as the South Korean laboured to a 77.
Hall has recently broken into the world's top 10 on the Rolex Rankings after roaring to an outstanding two-shot victory in the Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Lytham last month, and she was runner-up to Marina Alex at the Cambia Portland Classic a fortnight ago.
The 22-year-old from Dorset took her good form to France and wasted little time in getting into contention as she birdied three of the first eight holes before missing a good chance for another at the par-five ninth.
But the putts dried up for Hall after the turn as she settled for nine straight pars coming in, and she admitted afterwards she felt her score did not reflect the way she had played from tee to green, although she was also focused on keeping bogeys off her card.
"I left a few out there, especially on the back nine, but I had it in my head as well that I wanted to be bogey-free, and that's quite a special thing I think round this golf course," Hall said. "But I'll take that as my first round. I'm quite happy with that.
"I am three shots behind, but it's only the first day so it doesn't really like mean loads. I had a good round, and three behind is nothing really. This golf course is pretty tough, and the greens especially, so six under was a great score.
"There are some demanding tee shots as well, but you have to be a good putter to play well around this golf course and score low. I putted all right today, but every putt seems to break about four foot."
Hall will be out early on Friday as she aims to reel in Ciganda and Torres, who became the first female golfer from Puerto Rico to compete in a major championship at the LPGA Championship earlier this year.
Ciganda's superb finish capped a flawless, six-birdie 65 which was later matched by Torres, who followed birdies at 13 and 14 with a stunning eagle at the 15th, and she closed in style with her sixth birdie of the round at the 18th.
Austin Ernst eagled the 13th and also made three birdies in five holes from the 15th before going on to card a 66 which earned outright third ahead of Brooke Henderson, So Yeon Ryu and Nasa Hataoka, while former world No 1 and seven-time major champion Inbee Park was in the group on three under alongside Hall.
England's Bronte Law was the only other British player to shoot a sub-par round as she opened with an encouraging 69, while Nordqvist's solid 71 was matched by Lexi Thompson and US Women's Open champion Ariya Jutanugarn.
Hull mixed three bogeys with two birdies as she and 2015 champion Lydia Ko both returned 71s, while veteran Dame Laura Davies, who won back-to-back Evian titles in 1995 and 1996 before it was co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA, fired a commendable 74 despite having two double-bogeys on her card.