EVIAN-LES-BAINS – Blue skies and sunshine gave way to clouds and rain as the Evian Championship got underway Thursday morning. While pop up showers throughout the morning made for cold and windy conditions, In Gee Chun took the early lead with a bogey-free, eight-under par, 63. She holds a three-stroke lead in the morning wave ahead of So Yeon Ryu at five-under par.
Chun is making her third start in this event where she hasn’t had much success in the past, with one missed cut and one T-65 finish. But the world No.7 got off to a much better start this time around, saying after her round she felt more comfortable on Thursday playing alongside Ariya Jutanugarn and amateur Julia Engstrom which she referred to as a friendly grouping.
“Before the round I felt really nervous today, and it was windy, and there was a thunderstorm this morning, so I tried more focus on my game,” Chun said. ”I could see the putting lines very well, and I was so good rolling the ball on those lines. And then I played with Ariya. I'm always happy to play with Ariya because she's so nice, and I played with Julia today. She's so sweet. Thanks to them for making me feel comfortable.”
Chun hit 18 of 18 fairways en route to her lowest round since May’s Kingsmill Championship. The rookie has come close to winning all season long, posting nine top-10’s, six of which were top-3 finishes. Chun earned membership for this season by winning the U.S. Women’s Open in 2015 as a non-member.
Fellow major champion So Yeon Ryu matched her lowest round in this event since 2013, posting a bogey-free, five-under par, 66 which included four birdies and an eagle. Ryu is one of the most consistent players on Tour, having not missed playing a weekend on Tour since the 2014 Evian Championship, and has continued to put herself in contention in recent weeks, finishing outside the top-15 just once in her last seven starts.
“You cannot really complain anything when you have a bogey-free round. But especially my tee shot and irons. Everything was pretty great,” Ryu told the media. “Actually I've been working really hard with my putting. I always believe if I work hard, it's going to pay off one day. So hopefully it's going to pay off the next three days.”
Ryu is one of the most consistent players on Tour, having not missed playing a weekend on Tour since the 2014 Evian Championship, and has continued to put herself in contention in recent weeks, finishing outside the top-15 just once in her last seven starts. She put in some work with her instructor Cameron McCormick last week in Texas, focused on the path of the putter as well as her driver.