Mi Hyang Lee carded the low round of the afternoon with a 5-under par, 66 to move into a tie for the lead with Lexi Thompson in the first round of the Evian Championship. On a day when players had trouble reading the difficult, undulating greens, Lee made it around in just 26 putts Thursday afternoon.
This is the first time Lee has held a share of the lead in round one, her solo victory on the LPGA Tour came in a three-way playoff at the 2014 Mizuno Classic where she won with a birdie on the fifth extra hole. Lee has consistently played well in the majors this year, posting three top-17 finishes including a T-8 at the ANA Inspiration.
With three birdies and an eagle in her first five holes, Thompson quickly jumped to the top of the leaderboard early in the first round. Thompson started her day on the back nine, going out in 31 before shooting even par on her second nine of the day. She posted an opening round 5-under par, 66 to lead by as many as three strokes during the morning wave.
“It feels great to have a stretch of holes like that and hitting good golf shots off the tee or into the hole or making a few good putts out there it's important in a major championship,” Thompson told the media after her round Thursday. “But you just have to take one shot at a time and not get ahead of yourself because, I mean, shots can get away from you out here. If you hit it in the rough, the rough's pretty thick, so you know you have to make some good pars if you miss the fairway.”
Already a major champion having captured the 2014 ANA Inspiration, Thompson went winless for more than a year after her victory before winning the Meijer LPGA Classic in July. Since then she has finished outside a tie for 17th.
“I've just been working on consistency in my game, just trying to get more consistent off the tee,” said Thompson. “I've been working on short game a lot, which is chipping and putting. But the big thing is the mental side of the game. I've been working with John Denney down in Florida and just trying to stay positive going into shots, doing my routine and focusing on my breathing walking into the shot. So I think that's helped.”
Thompson and Lee hold a one-stroke lead ahead of Gerina Piller, Eun-Hee Ji and Pornanong Phatlum at 4-under par.
World No.1, 2 and 3 were paired together Thursday morning where Lydia Ko posted the low round of the group, carding a 2-under par 69. Her playing partners struggled in round one, with Inbee Park posting a 1-over par, 72 and Stacy Lewis carding a 2-over par, 73.