Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand leads the Evian
Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand leads the Evian Image Credit: AFP

American Yealimi Noh and Thailand’s Pajaree Anannarukarn shot matching rounds of 6-under 65 Thursday to share the first-round lead at the Evian Championship, the fourth major of the LPGA Tour season in Evian-les-Bains, France.

Noh opened the tournament by holing out for eagle on the par-four first hole.

“Yeah, I think it’s the first time I’ve ever done that. I was just like, ‘What?’” Noh said. “It was really cool. Actually my playing partners, they both stuck it (close to the pin), so I was like, ‘Oh, I hope I stick it, too, I don’t want to be left out.’” Noh added five birdies and a bogey before her round was over, while Anannarukarn posted a bogey-free 65 with six birdies. Anannarukarn said the longest putt she made Thursday clocked in at about 30 feet, and said her game was “feeling great” entering the major.

“Like I said, I just really focusing on my progress right now, what I’ve been working on, trying to improve each and every day, and just really playing my game, trying to follow the plan as much, don’t go too fancy or crazy. That’s just kind of my plan.”

Noh entered the week ranked No. 62 in the world, while Anannarukarn is No. 113. Both are seeking their first major title.

Five players finished Thursday one stroke back at five-under: American Lauren Stephenson, Japan’s Ayaka Furue, Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul, South Korea’s Joengeun Lee and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen.

Pedersen carded eagles on both No. 9 and No. 18 to establish herself on the leaderboard.

Tied for eighth at four-under are Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, a two-time major winner, along with Australian Sarah Kemp and South Korean Hyo Joo Kim.

Two amateurs shot three -under 68 to join a large group tied for 11th: France’s Pauline Roussin-Bouchard and Japan’s Tsubasa Kajitani.

“I’m most of the time in the US, and so being here, people are here to support the French people, the Frenchies, and that’s what really nice about it,” Roussin-Bouchard said. “It’s just special.”

Also part of that group are two two-time major winners In Gee Chun of South Korea and Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

World No. 1 Nelly Korda is in danger of missing Friday’s cut after opening with a three-over 74.