Sat, Sep 15, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Torres defies Hurricane Maria with Evian lead

AP, EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France

Aiming to cap a rookie season that Hurricane Maria almost denied her, Maria Torres on Thursday shared the first-round lead on six-under-par at the final LPGA major.

Torres, the first Puerto Rican to get an LPGA Tour card, went birdie-birdie-eagle from the 13th to 15th holes in a 65 that tied her atop the Evian Championship leaderboard with Carlota Ciganda of Spain.

“I just want to come here and play, and whatever happens, happens,” Torres said.

Carefree laughs flowed from the 184th-ranked Torres, who in September last year was on her home island when the hurricane struck.

In the aftermath, she struggled to register for the second part of tour qualifying. Finally, at Daytona Beach in December last year, Torres won a three-way playoff to claim the last tour card on offer.

Nine months later, the 2016 Southeastern Conference college player of the year is relishing her first competition in France.

“It’s awesome to be here,” Torres said. “I love it, I’m like almost rolling down the par-threes with all I’ve been eating here.”

Torres matched a target set by the 21st-ranked Ciganda, who had six birdies and no bogeys.

Top-ranked Park Sung-hyun had a tough day, shooting a six-over 77 playing in the same afternoon group as Hall. The South Korean player dropped shots at four of the first five holes.

Defending champion Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and No. 5 Lexi Thompson of the US shot even-par 71s among the early starters.

Forecast storms held off just until the last groups completed play, including 16-year-old American Rachel Heck, who had a one-under 70 in her second major.

“I was looking around thinking: ‘I can’t believe I am actually here,’” said Heck, who got a wildcard entry.

As of press time last night, Torres was alone in the lead with an eight-under 134 total as play continued.

Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling finished the second round with six-under 136, including six birdies, which put her in second place.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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