Stacy Lewis enjoyed seven consecutive birdies to tie the Evian Masters record with a nine-under 63 in the opening round on Thursday.
Her birdie flurry from holes fiver to 11, plus two more on 17 and 18, helped Lewis to a two-shot lead over early front-runner Park Hee-young of South Korea.
“I didn’t really have anything going the first few holes. I don’t know what changed or clicked,” Lewis said. “It was just one of those days where you get into this rhythm. I was more happy to finish with the two birdies than even the seven, just to get some momentum going into tomorrow.”
Lewis, who has won two LPGA Tour titles this year, matched Helen Alfredsson’s round of 63, set by the Swede in 2008.
“I know I’ve made six [birdies] in a row before, but I don’t know if I’ve made seven ... I almost made eight,” Lewis said. “I definitely think this is one of the lowest rounds I’ve ever shot.”
If Lewis keeps her form going, last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship winner has a chance to beat I.K. Kim’s 23 birdies last year. The overall course record is held by fellow American Julie Inkster, who won with 21-under in 2003.
Park, who used a belly putter for the first time in her career, was also in clinical form as she sank five straight birdies on the front nine.
South Korea’s Lee Il-hee was three shots behind Lewis in third place. Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe and Japan’s Mika Miyazato were both four behind after 67s.
Park started shakily with a bogey on the fourth hole before her run of birdies. She added three more on the back nine. After shooting six-under in Wednesday’s pro-am tournament, she sensed the belly putter would work for her.
“I have been playing 15 years and I have never used the belly putter before,” said Park, who won her only LPGA title at last year’s season-ending Titleholders.
Having failed to make the cut at the US Women’s Open, Park’s relief at finding her form was evident. She put it down to taking some much-needed time off.
“Before Evian I had a two-week break, where I did some other sports — swim, kayak, bike, tennis — everything refreshed my body,” she said. “[I was] kind of frustrated after the US [Women’s] Open, I needed to forget about it.”
Taiwanese five-time major winner Yani Tseng’s miserable round was compounded by a wild shot into the rough on the 18th.
Her shot landed deep in the rough, at an awkward angle and just above the water. Tseng drove the ball well, but it just failed to clear the bunker.
Although world No. 1 Tseng saved par, overall she had five bogeys against one birdie and drifted way out of contention at four-over.
Fellow Taiwanese Amy Hung did not fair much better, carding a three-over 74, while Candie Kung shot a disappointing five-over 77.
Additional reporting by Staff writer