Rookie Yealimi Noh holed out for eagle on her opening hole at the Amundi Evian Championship to help vault her into a share of the lead with Pajaree Anannarukarn at 6 under.
Noh, 19, said that after her playing competitors threw in darts on the first hole at Evian Resort Golf Club, she didn’t want to be left out. She hit a soft 9-iron from 126 yards.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve ever done that,” said Noh. “I was just like, what? Like OK. It was really cool.”
Both Noh and Anannarukarn took a share of third at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Noh paired up with 2020 U.S. Women’s Open winner A Lim Kim and Anannarukarn played with Aditi Ashok.
“I learned a lot from A Lim,” said Noh, “and I took a lot of positives from her just like her attitude on the course and just how she carries herself, so it was really nice to see that.”
Noh hit 16 greens and took 29 putts in her opening round. She tied for 44th at this event in her debut at Evian before joining the tour.
For Anannarukarn, the bogey-free 65 marked her lowest round in a major. In 2019, Anannarukarn opened with back-to-back 68s and ultimately tied for 25th in her Evian debut.
“Obviously I really enjoyed my week two years ago,” said Anannarukarn. “I played great golf, just last two days or final round didn’t go the way I wanted to. But again, I really like the course. The course is in great condition. It probably suits my game.”
Scoring conditions were ideal in the opening round at Evian. Major champions Ariya Jutanugarn and Hyo Joo Kim hold a share of third at 4 under. Kim won the 2014 Evian with a major record-setting 61 in the first round. Jutanugarn, who won the Dow last week with sister Moriya, chipped in for eagle on her final hole, the par-5 ninth, to shoot 67.
“I will say I love this place so much,” said Ariya, “especially the views, everything, the golf course. Even though I never played good here because I feel like the course is so tough. Maybe the course doesn’t like me.”
Jutanugarn finished fifth at the 2019 Evian, her best showing to date.
Matilda Castren, one of the hottest players on tour who comes to her first Evian fresh off a win at the Ladies European Tour’s Gant Ladies Open in her native Finland, carried on her fine play with a 3-under 68. The victory gave Castren LET membership, which makes her now eligible for the Solheim Cup.
Matilda Castren hits her second shot on hole 6 during day one of the The Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club on July 22, 2021 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Castren is the only European to win on the LPGA season. She admitted to feeling fatigued Thursday morning, noting that it’s her fifth week in a row. Despite the tired legs, her strong, smooth mental approach kept up her streak of solid play.
“I feel like I’ve been really patient this year,” said Castren, “and I’ve managed to kind of get in the mental space that I’ve just let things happen and not trying to like force things.
“That definitely helps me minimize the mistakes and recover from them, make birdies and just kind of play really steady golf.”
French amateur Pauline Roussin-Bouchard joins Castren in a share of sixth after an impressive 68. The South Carolina standout, currently ranked No. 6 in the world, said her experience at the 2019 Evian, where she missed the cut, helped prepare her for this week.
“I just learned so much about myself,” said Roussin-Bouchard, “about how to deal with all the people, with media, with my own family, my coach, my caddie and all that. I just learned a lot that helped me for the U.S. Open, and I kept learning at the U.S. Open to be prepared for these tournaments, also learned in Augusta. So it’s just details and facts that I identify and then I just learn from them, and I just apply.”
World No. 1 Nelly Korda struggled with a 3-over 74 that included a whiffed bunker shot on her final hole.