Date: September 16, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Smith leads Aussies at Evian

Form followers would not be surprised to see Sarah Jane Smith the leading Australian contingent at the Evian Championship.

Smith hasn't missed a cut on the LPGA Tour since mid-April and has steadily produced great results, including a T17 finish at the recent Women's British Open.

So her classy opening 69 at Evian-les-Bains today should shock nobody as the quietly spoken Queenslander sat T15 after the opening round of the year's final women's major championship.

Smith opened up in style and had four birdies on her card by the turn, before a couple of back-nine bogeys left her six behind leaders In-gee Chun and fellow Korean Sung-hyun Park.

Minjee Lee was next best of the Australian contingent at even-par 71, while Karrie Webb fired a 72 that featured two opening and two closing bogeys.

Melbourne's Su Oh fired an incredible 73 that unfortunately featured a quadruple-bogey seven followed by a double-bogey six, but then later four birdies in a row to close her round just inside the projected cut line at two over.

One shot behind the Koreans were Olympic bronze medalist Shanshan Feng of China and American rookie Annie Park.

Rookie Chun, who earned LPGA Tour membership by winning the US Women's Open in 2015, hit every fairway and green on the way to her lowest round since May's Kingsmill Championship.

The leading candidate for Rookie of the Year honours, world number seven Chun has posted nine top-10s this season, six of which were top-3 finishes.

"Before the round, I felt really nervous today … but I could see the putting lines very well and I was so good rolling the ball on those lines."

Korean Park, a non-member of the LPGA Tour who led during this year's US Women's Open where she tied for third, grabbed a share of the lead by sinking a 6m birdie putt at the 18th.

She has finished outside the top-13 just once in her six appearances on Tour.

World No.1 Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, opened with a 70 to trail the leaders by seven.

"It was tricky for me because on the back nine I really wasn't hitting fairways," said the 19-year-old. "I was making up and downs. It was a good thing my wedge shots or chip shots were good enough where I was able to get off with par."

Canadian Brooke Henderson, ranked third in the world, was one better than Ko with a two-under 69, while No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, triple-bogeyed the 18th for 73.