|Stacy Lewis during a press conference following her career-low round
Stacy Lewis of the United States was all smiles after shooting a course-record equalling nine under par 63 on Thursday to take a two stroke lead after the first round of the Evian Masters presented by Société Générale.
Playing in stifling heat, the 27-year-old from Texas reeled off seven birdies in a row from the fifth and picked up two closing birdies at the17th and 18th at Evian Masters Golf Course in Evian-les-Bains, France, to tie the course record set by Helen Alfredsson in the second round of the 2008 tournament, which the Swede went on to win.
Lewis also tied the Ladies European Tour’s record for most consecutive birdies in a round held by five other players, as well as recording her own career-low round in four seasons on the LPGA Tour.
Lewis, the runner-up to Ai Miyazato at the 2011 Evian Masters, said: “I don't know what changed or what clicked, but I think the pretty close on five and made a long putt on six; barely missed eagle on seven. From there I started to hit some good shots. Made about a 20‑footer on 11, which is the last of the seven. So, I mean, it was just one of those days where you just get in this rhythm where you're just hitting golf shots and not thinking about a score or trying to make birdie.”
She said that she had no fear that the birdie-run would end: “It's just playing golf. I was happy… more happy to finish with the two birdies than even the seven just to get some momentum going into tomorrow.”
She is on a hot streak after two victories and nine top 10 finishes on the LPGA Tour so far this season and currently ranked third in the world.
Hee Young Park, who earned her maiden victory on the LPGA last year, is two strokes back at seven under par, while fellow South Korean Ilhee Lee is a shot further behind on 66.
Colombian Mariajo Uribe shares fourth place with Japan’s Mika Miyazato on five under, followed by Paula Creamer of the United States and China’s Shanshan Feng on four under par.
South African Lee-Anne Pace, Norwegian Suzann Pettersen and Germany’s Sandra Gal lead the Ladies European Tour’s challenge in a group of nine players in a share of eighth place on three under.
The world No 6, Pettersen said: “Three under and I hit my drives sideways. I haven’t played that much golf in two weeks so I guess this is what I needed.”
Like Pettersen, Gal fired four birdies and a bogey at the 16th and she said: “I’m happy with it. I rolled a few nice putts in and I think I stuck to my game plan today and was just executing the shots. One bogey coming in is a little bit annoying but hopefully there will be more birdies tomorrow.”
South African Lee-Anne Pace joined the Solheim Cup duo on three under par after four birdies on the front nine were only countered by a solitary bogey at the 12th.
“A good front nine and I made some really good shots and hit them close. Then number nine I almost hit the green in two so that was an easy birdie,” said Pace.
“I kept pushing my drives, the whole day, so I wasn’t quite sure if it was going to draw or not. I had one missed tee shot which cost me a bogey and the rest of the time I played quite well, but just didn’t make the putts for birdie.”
The defending champion Ai Miyazato was three under on the front nine but struggled with coming in, with three bogeys against a birdie. She sat at one under, tied for 24th place as part of a large group, while World No1 Yani Tseng opened with a four over 76.
Evian Masters presented by Société Générale
Evian Masters Golf Club, Evian-les-Bains, France
26-29 July, 2012
Scores at the end of round 1:
63 - Stacy Lewis (USA)
65 - Hee Young Park (KOR)
66 - Il Hee Lee (KOR) , Jia Yun Li (CHN)
67 - Mika Miyazato (JPN) , Mariajo Uribe (COL)
68 - Shanshan Feng (CHN) , Paula Creamer (USA)
69 - Sandra Gal (DEU) , In Kyung Kim (KOR) , Suzann Pettersen (NOR) , Pernilla Lindberg (SWE) , Jiyai Shin (KOR) , Natalie Gulbis (USA) , Amy Hung (TPE) , Hyo-Joo Kim (KOR) , Meena Lee (KOR) , Momoko Ueda (JPN) , Lee-Anne Pace (ZAF)
70 - Se Ri Pak (KOR) , Karine Icher (FRA) , Ha-Neul Kim (KOR) , Becky Morgan (WAL) , Karrie Webb (AUS) , Azahara Munoz (ESP) , Jodi Ewart (ENG)
71 - Inbee Park (KOR) , Cristie Kerr (USA) , Cheyenne Woods (USA) , Juli Inkster (USA) , Katherine Hull (AUS) , Giulia Sergas (ITA) , Brittany Lang (USA) , Hee-Kyung Seo (KOR) , Beatriz Recari (ESP) , Gwladys Nocera (FRA) , Helen Alfredsson (SWE) , Ai Miyazato (JPN) , Karen Lunn (AUS) , Lindsey Wright (AUS)
72 - Hee-Won Han (KOR) , Maria Hjorth (SWE) , Ji-Na Yim (KOR) , Carly Booth (SCO) , Pornanong Phatlum (THA) , Anna Nordqvist (SWE) , Amy Yang (KOR) , Haeji Kang (KOR)
73 - Mirim Lee (KOR) , Felicity Johnson (ENG) , Jennifer Song (USA) , Jenny Shin (KOR) , Jennifer Johnson (USA) , Jade Schaeffer (FRA) , Brittany Lincicome (USA) , Laura Davies (ENG) , Christina Kim (USA) , Sun Young Yoo (KOR) , Michelle Wie (USA) , So Yeon Ryu (KOR) , Chella Choi (KOR) , Carlota Ciganda (ESP) , Hye-Youn Kim (KOR) , Melissa Reid (ENG) , Amanda Blumenherst (USA) , Caroline Afonso (FRA)
74 - Ran Hong (KOR) , Julieta Granada (PAR) , Lexi Thompson (USA) , Vicky Hurst (USA) , Jimin Kang (KOR) , Line Vedel (DNK) , Catriona Matthew (SCO) , Shin-Ae Ahn (KOR) , Kristy Mcpherson (USA) , You-Na Park (KOR) , Xi Yu Lin (CHN) , Kaori Ohe (JPN) , Min-Young2 Lee (KOR) , Sharmila Nicollet (IND) , Katie Futcher (USA)
75 - Eun Hee Ji (KOR) , Na Yeon Choi (KOR) , Danielle Kang (USA) , Ryann O Toole (USA) , Christel Boeljon (NLD) , Mina Harigae (USA) , Wendy Doolan (AUS) , Linda Wessberg (SWE) , Gerina Piller (USA)
76 - Diana Luna (ITA) , Miki Saiki (JPN) , Anais Maggetti (CHE) , Mindy Kim (KOR) , Cindy Lacrosse (USA) , Alison Walshe (USA) , Caroline Masson (DEU) , Angela Stanford (USA) , Yani Tseng (TPE) , Morgan Pressel (USA)
77 - Karin Sjodin (SWE) , Candie Kung (TPE) , Sophie Giquel-bettan (FRA) , Jessica Korda (USA) , Trish Johnson (ENG) , Jeong-Eun5 Lee (KOR)
78 - Rye-Jung Lee (KOR) , Tiffany Joh (USA)
79 - Sophie Gustafson (SWE)
80 - Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA)
81 - Karen Stupples (ENG)