CIGANDA, TORRES TAKE LEAD AT EVIAN
Two-time LPGA winner Carlota Ciganda of Spain and 2018 LPGA rookie Maria Torres of Puerto Rico share the lead at 6-under par through the first round at The Evian Championship, the LPGA’s fifth and final major. Both players are attempting to add a major championship win to their resume for the first time.
“I like tough courses and I like playing the majors,” Ciganda said. “I know I have to be mentally tough, and I like that. I like the challenge. I been playing good, so I'm just going to try to keep playing the same.”
American Austin Ernst recorded an opening round of 66 (-5) to put herself in solo third. Two strokes back at 4-under par are a trio of 2018 LPGA Tour winners in Brooke Henderson, Nasa Hataoka and So Yeon Ryu.
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES FOR TORRES
Almost a year to the day, Maria Torres was with her family in Puerto Rico as she watched Hurricane Maria ravage her home country. Fast forward a year later, and Torres is tied for the lead following the first round of The Evian Championship. Torres said she could not have imagined where she’d be today, especially since she almost didn’t make it back to the U.S. for Stage II of LPGA Qualifying School last year due to the hurricane. She then had to survive a three-hole playoff to claim the last spot in the Final Stage of Qualifying School to achieve her dream of becoming the first woman from Puerto Rico to get a full LPGA Tour card.
“It's exciting,” Torres said after an opening-round 65 Thursday. “Like you never thought that in a year you got your card and, I don't know, like all these things happened and it went good. I'm thankful. I feel like I'm grateful for all the opportunities we get -- well, I get in this moment. And I don't know, because I never thought I was going to make it to Q-School, so I don't know. I'm grateful to be here.”
HATAOKA SEEKS FIRST LPGA MAJOR
As a 17-year-old Nasa Hataoka became the first amateur to win a major tournament on the Japan LPGA Tour after winning the 2016 Japan Women's Golf Open Championship. She successfully defended her major title on the JLPGA the following year.
Hataoka, who finished T2 earlier this year at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, got off to a great start towards her goal of winning an LPGA major with a 4-under par 67 on Thursday.
“It's too early to think about winning, so in total four days try to stay the same,” the 19-year-old said. “If I keep it in the fairway and it could be there.”
Rolex Rankings No. 21 Carlota Ciganda (65, -6)
Ciganda, 28, is from Pamplona, Spain
Ciganda’s first-round 65 is her career-best round at The Evian Championship
Ciganda is competing in her seventh Evian Championship; her career-best finish at the event is T17 in 2016
In 2018, Ciganda has made 16 cuts in 19 starts with five top-10 finishes including a runner-up finish at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
Ciganda has held a share of the first-round lead twice in her career, at the 2016 Meijer LPGA Classic where she finished second and at the 2016 Lorena Ochoa Invitational where she went on to win
Ciganda has two top-10 finishes in majors this year, a third-place finish at the U.S. Women’s Open and T7 at the Ricoh Women’s British Open
Rolex Rankings No. 184 Maria Torres (65, -6)
Torres, 23, from Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico was a two-time All-American at the University of Florida and 2016 SEC Individual Champion
Torres’ first-round 65 is her career-low round
This is the first time in Torres’ LPGA career she has held a share of the lead following any round
In her rookie season, Torres has made nine cuts in 20 starts with two top-10 finishes coming in her last six starts
Torres missed the cut in her first career major championship appearance at the 2018 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
Torres became the first woman from Puerto Rico to get a full LPGA Tour card by finishing 20th at the final stage of LPGA Qualifying School in 2017
Rolex Rankings No. 37 Austin Ernst (66, -5)
Ernst, 26, from Greenville, S.C. went to LSU and was the 2011 NCAA individual champion
Ernst’s first-round 66 is her best career-round at The Evian Championship
In five previous starts at this event, Ernst’s best finish is T48 in 2017
In 2018, Ernst has made 15 cuts in 20 starts with four top-10 finishes including a runner-up finish at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
2013 LPGA rookie Ernst has one LPGA victory to her name, the 2014 Portland Classic
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Brooke Henderson (67, -4)
Henderson, 21, is from Smith Falls, Ontario
Henderson is competing in her fourth Evian Championship; her career-best finish at the event is T9 in 2016
Her first-round 67 ties her lowest round at the event, she previously recorded a 67 in the third round in 2016 and the final round in 2015
In 2018, Henderson has made 22 starts with nine top-10 finishes including victories at the CP Women’s Open and the LOTTE Championship
Henderson has seven career LPGA victories, including one major championship (2016 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship)
Henderson’s finishes in majors this year: T48 (ANA Inspiration), WD (U.S. Women’s Open), T6 (KPMG Women’s PGA Championship) and T11 (Ricoh Women’s British Open)
Rolex Rankings No. 15 Nasa Hataoka (67, -4)
Hataoka, 19, is from Ibaraki, Japan
Hataoka became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, one of her eight top-10 finishes this season
Hataoka is competing in her first Evian Championship this week; she has two top-10 finishes in majors this season at the U.S. Women’s Open (T10) and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship (T2)
Hataoka (19) is the youngest player to win on the LPGA in 2018 (won in Arkansas at 19 years, 5 months, 11 days
The week after her win in Arkansas, Hataoka finished T2 at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship following a final-round 64 (-8) that put her in a playoff with So Yeon Ryu and champion Sung Hyun Park
Medalist at the 2017 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to earn Priority Category 12 for the 2018 LPGA Tour season
Rolex Rankings No. 3 So Yeon Ryu (67, -4)
Ryu, 28, is from Seoul, Republic of Korea
In seven starts at The Evian Championship, Ryu has made all seven cuts including two top-five finishes highlighted by a T2 finish in 2016
In majors this year, Ryu lost in a playoff at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship and finished solo third at the Ricoh Women’s British Open; two of five top-10 finishes this season
In June, Ryu won the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give for her sixth career LPGA title
Inbee Park is the last player to have won two major championships in one season, when she won the 2015 Ricoh Women’s British Open and the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Park has won seven major titles, but needs a win at The Evian Championship to record the Super Career Grand Slam.
In LPGA history, players have successfully defended their major titles 14 times with Inbee Park’s back-to-back-to-back wins at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in 2013-2015 being most recent.
Defending champion Anna Nordqvist is T35 after the first round of her title defense.
No player from Spain has won an LPGA major championship.
Hisako Higuchi won the 1977 LPGA Championship, making her the first Asian-born player to win a major championship for either men or women. She remains the only Japanese player to win an LPGA major championship.
Only seven players have ever won major championships in their teen years; Lydia Ko (18 years, 4 months, 20 days) is the youngest major winner in history with her win at the 2015 Evian Championship.