It WAS a day of highs and lows at the Evian Championship in France. South Korean teenager Kim Hyo Joo set the final major of the season well and truly alight with a record breaking first round of ten under par 61.
It was the lowest ever round in a major golf championship – replacing the 62s from Finland’s Minea Blomqvist (2004 Women’s British Open) and Lorena Ochoa (2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship). The lowest round in a men’s major is 63.
Kim, who won the 2010 R&A Junior Girls’ Open at St Andrews, led by four shots from Australian veteran Karrie Webb with defending champion Suzann Pettersen in a tie for fourth on 67.
But it ended as a rather wretched day for the two Scots in the field, Catriona Matthew and Kylie Walker, who was playing in the championship for a first time. Both shot 75.
For Walker, the four over par score was particularly heartbreaking as she had been at the top of the leaderboard on four under par after ten holes. But she then had a horror four double-bogeys in a row from the 13th.
The 28-year-old had been suffering from a neck injury, but she had no excuses. “I really played well until the four holes,” she said. “They were pretty dreadful. To have four doubles in a row is really annoying.
“I didn’t get a practice round so I guess that wasn’t ideal preparation. I’m pretty happy at least with my neck, my health and certainly feeling a lot better today. The bad run started at the 13th. I hit my tee shot right and out of bounds and just made par with my second ball. The 14th, the par-3, I hit it in the bunker. On 15 I hit it a bit right off the tee and then went into water at the 16th.”
Matthew is an Evian veteran but has never really mastered the course and yesterday was really the same story.
Patience was the key for Pettersen. One over par after 13 holes she reeled off five birdies in a row for a four under par 67.
“I just wanted to keep going,” she said after the second half of 30. “I’m thrilled to finish with five straight birdies. The most positive aspect of the day was that I was patient enough to wait for something to happen and not flip out.”
Pettersen started at the tenth with a bogey. She birdied the 15th and the second but also dropped shots at the 16th and third. Then came the spectacular finale. “I hit a great iron shot into number five and that was the trigger,” she said. “The course was in great shape but starting at the tenth is tough. It’s not the most comfortable of tee shots.”
Webb, winner of the 2002 Women’s British Open at Turnberry, won this event in its pre-major guise as the Evian Masters in 2006 and the veteran showed she is still a force to be noticed. The 39-year-old seven time major champion had eight birdies in the near perfect scoring conditions.
It was a hugely disappointing day for US Women’s Open Champion Michelle Wie. Playing in her first event for five weeks due to a hand injury, she pulled out at five over par after 13 holes.
“It sucks,’ said the popular 24-year-old. “I wasn’t 100 per cent but really wanted to play. But I hit a stinger three wood shot at the fourth hole and it really hurt. I hope this isn’t my last event of 2014.”