EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) — Mika Miyazato of Japan shot a 6-under 65 Friday to take the lead after the rain-delayed first round of the Evian Championship, the year's fifth and final major. The tournament was shortened to 54 holes after Thursday's play was washed out.
Top-ranked Inbee Park, making a bid for golf history, got off to a bad start with a 74. The 25-year-old South Korean is trying to become the first professional to win four majors in a season. But she double bogeyed the second hole and capped a frustrating day with a bogey on the 18th.
Suzann Pettersen of Norway bogeyed the last hole to fall one shot behind Miyazato, along with Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak of South Korea and Sandra Gal of Germany. Miyazato is looking for her first LPGA title this year. This month, Pettersen won the Safeway Classic for the second time in three years for her 12th Tour victory.
"The best part was my putting," said Miyazato, who called this her "best finish this year." Pettersen had a chance to take the outright lead when her long birdie putt on the 18th hole hit the lip and rolled out, and she then missed an easy par.
Play was called off after less than an hour Thursday because of heavy rain, with the scores wiped out. But it was sunny all day Friday, although that did not help Park. She will have an even harder challenge now after the LPGA announced late Friday that it has decided to cut the tournament to three rounds. Organizers initially hoped to complete the 72 holes by playing two rounds Sunday, when rain is also forecast. There will be a 36-hole cut of the top 70 and ties.
But Pak, who won the last of her five majors at the LPGA Championship in 2006, feels confident of challenging for another after improving her wayward putting. The 35-year-old said "a bit of a lesson" from her father last week helped set her straight — literally.
"He knows me (better) than anybody," she said. "I was bending my upper body too much and at the same time my arms were too rounded." American Christina Kim is two shots behind Miyazato in fifth place, and one shot ahead of teen star Lydia Ko, American Michelle Wie and Australians Carrie Webb and Lindsey Wright.
Pak is 19 years older than Ko, the amateur from New Zealand who successfully defended her Canadian Women's Open title last month. Pak made an even bigger impact in her first season as a professional in 1998 as the first two trophies of her career were both majors — the LPGA and the U.S. Women's Open — and she sees huge potential in Ko.
"When you play with the teenagers, they don't know much about the game, how to control the games. They just play golf, one day is a good day, one day is a bad day, very up and down," Pak said. "But she looks like she has her own game already, only 16 years old but she knew how to play, how to control."
No. 2-ranked Stacy Lewis, the only other player to win a major this year (the British Open), finished four shots behind Miyazato. The course, built into the mountains in Evian-les-Bains overlooking the shores of Lake Geneva, underwent a redesign this year. It is regarded as one of the best on the tour.