Georgia Hall’s victory at last month’s British Open was largely built on her ability to keep the bogeys off her scorecards and, simply for that reason, England golf fans should be excited by the blemish-free foundation she laid in the first round of the Evian Championship.
The 22-year-old came in sounding extremely confident of recording back-to-back major wins and watching her shoot a three-under 68 to stand three off the lead, that self-belief seemed eminently understandable.
The greens at the French resort are wickedly undulating, but Hall’s holing out in recording three birdies and 15 pars looked as impervious as it was at Royal Lytham six weeks ago.
“I did putt well and you have to because these greens are tough and make it such a demanding course,” Hall said. “It was a beautiful day and I love coming back here. I am obviously more experienced than when I came 10th in this event last year and I feel that if I did get in contention I would feel much less nervous than I was at Lytham.”
Her afternoon’s work was good enough to put her playing partners in the shade and seeing as they were the world Nos 1 and 2, Korea’s Sung Hyun Park (77) and Thailand’s Ariya Jutanagurn (71) this was another feather on Hall’s ever-crammed visor.
The Spaniard Carlota Ciganda and Maria Torres both fired 65s with a shot back to American Austin Ernst.
A Torres triumph would be a tremendous story as 12 months ago she was in Puerto Rico when Hurricane Maria hit. As she sheltered in a room with seven other family members she could never have imagined that a year later she would be leading a major.
Torres and her family avoided injury but she was due to play in Q-School and her local course had been washed away. Instead, Torres, 23, practiced at a local park and she somehow came through the final qualifying tournament, which also included Hall, to become the first golfer from the Caribbean island to earn her LPGA Tour card.
“I’m grateful to be here,” Torres said. “We are kind of almost back to normal at home. I’m hoping that hurricane season doesn’t do anything to us.”
On the European Tour, England’s Chris Wood shot a first-round 65 to stand on six-under after the first-round of the KLM Open and trail the Chinese Ashun Wu by a stroke. Eddie Pepperell is in the group on five-under.