Georgia Hall has not shot a lower opening round in a major since her victory at the 2018 Women’s Open. This 69 at the Evian Championship should fill the 25-year-old with confidence.
On two-under, Hall is in the top 25 at the French course overlooking Lake Geneva and four behind the American Yealimi Noh and Thai Pajaree Anannarukarn. With two top sevens in her last three events, Hall is coming into form at the right time, with the Women’s Open at Carnoustie next month and the Solheim Cup in Ohio in September.
But first is the Evian, the venue she has liked since her debut in 2017, when she racked up her first major top 10. “The course suits me,” she said. “Course management is key. There are some tricky tee shots and you have to put the ball on the right part of the greens, because there are about 10 slopes on each of them. I learned a lot from my previous years at the Evian.”
Under glorious skies, it was two young LPGA Tour talents who shone brightest. Anannarukarn, the 22-year-old from Thailand, and 19-year-old Noh, who hails from San Francisco, grabbed the advantage from a group on five-under including former US Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6 and Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen.
Atthaya Thitikul, another Thia phenom, is also on this mark She made her Evian debut in 2017 as a 14-year-old amateur, reaching the weekend and finishing tied for 64th and four years later, she return as a professional and making her mark on the golf world, nearly winning the LPGA Tour’s Honda LPGA Thailand in May before capturing the Ladies European Tour’s Czech Ladies Open in June.
“I just play as I played it before in practice rounds,” said Thitikul, who was bogey-free on Thursday. “This course, you have to be in the fairway and then it will be easier to get to the pin.”
Nelly Korda, the world No 1 who won the US PGA last month, posted a disappointing 74, featuring an air shot from a horrid lie under the lip of a bunker on the last.
Charley Hull and Bronte Law both fired satisfactory 70s, while Ireland’s Leona Maguire matched Hall’s 69. Former world No 1 Lydia Ko, who, as an 18-year-old, became the youngest ever winner of a major at the 2015 Evian, compiled an eye-catching 68.