Leona Maguire’s fighting spirit was on full display on day one at the Amundi Evian Championship at France’s Evian Resort as the two-time LPGA Tour winner turned in a one-under-par round of 70 despite being a little out of sorts.
One of just 19 players to see the weekend in all three majors this year, Maguire played in the tougher afternoon wave with greens and fairways playing considerably firmer than they had in the early stages.
Of the top five players on the leaderboard at the end of day’s play, only Lydia Ko was among the late starters as the world number three rode a hot putter into a tie for second, but the seven-under early target set by South African Paula Reto was never in any real danger of being caught.
Starting her round on the tenth, Maguire posted back-to-back bogeys on 12 and 13 to quickly move to two-over, similar to fellow countrywoman Stephanie Meadow who’d been one of the early starters on day one.
But again like Meadow, Leona would bounce back with birdies on the 15th and 17th to make the turn at level-par. A third bogey followed on the second after a loose approach to the par-3 left a tricky up-and-down that she couldn’t convert, and four consecutive pars followed as she reached her 16th hole of the day in plus figures.
But she’s made of stern stuff and this was on full display as she’d finish birdie, par, birdie to end the day the right side of par and will be looking forward to fresh greens when she begins her second round on Friday morning.
Ko, playing in the group behind Maguire, took just 24 putts on her way to a five-under 66. After starting with seven consecutive pars, she made her first birdie on the 17th – her eighth – and picked up another four on the front side to go bogey-free for the day.
“Definitely not, especially on my front nine,” she responded after the round when asked if it was as easy as it looked. “I was scrambling to make a lot of pars. No, it wasn’t the smoothest start, but when I was in trouble I was able to make good up and downs, and I think that helped with the momentum. Whereas I feel like sometimes trying to make those par saves are more the momentum maker than birdies at times.
“I know that at least I’m even, and if I have another birdie opportunity I’m going to try and be under par for the day. So nice to finish off on a high birdieing the last and playing really well on the back nine, but hopefully less shaky start tomorrow.
“But I think all in all it was solid. Even though things may not be 100%, I think that’s part of the game. You’re trying to shoot the best score you can, and sometimes it may not look pretty on the scorecard. But there is no pictures on the scorecard as well.”
The putter which served her so well was a new addition to the set. “I put it in the bag at the U.S. Women’s Open and I was honestly just messing around with it and trying the length more so,” she added.
Maguire’s 70 leaves her tied for 35th, while Meadow, one stroke better, ends the day tied for 19th at -2.