Miyazato grabs early lead at Evian Championship
Evian-les-Bains, France (Sports Network) - Mika Miyazato birdied her final hole on Friday to close out a 6-under 65 and grab the lead after the first round of the Evian Championship.
The tournament was scheduled to get underway on Thursday, but the start of the season's fifth and final major was delayed until Friday due to unplayable course conditions brought on by persistent rain.
Tournament officials announced at the completion of the first round that based on current weather forecasts for the weekend, the event will be shortened to 54 holes.
Suzann Pettersen held the outright lead prior to Miyazato's closing birdie, but stumbled to a bogey at her final hole to finish along Sandra Gal and Se Ri Pak in a tie for second place at 5-under 66.
"I'm feeling good. I'm trying to get better and better. I've been putting in the time where I feel it's needed," said Pettersen. "For this moment, it's definitely the greens, getting more confidence in my putter, and that's pretty much what I've spent the most time doing pretty much since the U.S. Open. It's nice to see that the practice and training pays off fairly quick."
Christina Kim owns sole possession of fifth at 4-under 67, while amateur standout Lydia Ko, Michelle Wie, Karrie Webb and Lindsey Wright share sixth at 3-under.
Women's British Open winner Stacy Lewis is among a large group of players tied for 10th at 2-under 69.
Defending champion Inbee Park, who won the first three majors of the season and is seeking to become the first player -- male or female -- to win four professional major championships in a single season, tripped to a 3-over 74 during her opening round to sit in a tie for 73rd place.
Gal went out with one of the first groups of the day and followed an opening par with back-to-back birdies at the second and third.
She would par her next 10 holes to remain there before reaching 3-under with a birdie at the 14th.
The German added another set of gains at the 16th and 17th to move to 5-under and parred the last to hold the clubhouse lead.
"You know, felt pretty solid with my irons," Gal said. "I was really looking forward to this week. Been playing well the last few weeks as well, months coming up to this."
Pak teed off nearly an hour later on the back nine, where she started hot with four birdies over her first six holes to pull within a stroke of Gal.
A bogey at the 16th dropped her two strokes off the pace, but she bounced back with a birdie at the first. After parring her next seven holes, she rolled in a birdie at the ninth to meet Gal atop the leaderboard.
No one was able to match their mark until Miyazato poured in consecutive birdies at the sixth and seventh to also grab a share of the lead.
Miyazato had started on the back nine and countered a bogey at the 15th with gains at the 11th, 13th and 17th to make the turn at 2-under.
She then birdied the first before her set of gains at the sixth and seventh pulled her even with Gal and Pak.
Pettersen, meanwhile, opened her round with a birdie at the first, but gave that stroke back with a bogey at the second.
After picking up a shot at the fifth, she followed three straight pars with back-to-back birdies at the ninth and 10th to move to 3-under.
She added another birdie at the 13th before making it a four-way tie for the lead with a birdie at the 15th. She followed that with a gain at the 16th to grab the outright lead at 6-under.
Miyazato then curled in a birdie at the ninth to meet her there, but Pettersen could not hang on to her share of the lead as she missed a short par putt at the 18th to fall a shot off the pace.
"That last putt basically just jumped straight offline," lamented Pettersen. "The greens are definitely better in the morning, I would probably assume. They're fairly wet, and with all the footprints and everything, you need to have a few bounces going your way to make a few putts."
NOTES: Miyazato is seeking her first career major victory ... Pettersen has finished inside the top 10 in nine of her last 12 starts, including her 12th career victory on the LPGA Tour at the Safeway Classic two weeks ago ... Pak can complete the career grand slam with a victory at this event. She has already won the LPGA Championship, the Women's British Open and the U.S. Women's Open.
09/13 15:23:25 ET