Stephanie Meadow finishes on solid ground after rollercoaster opening round at Evian Championship

Leona Maguire opens her bid for a breakthrough career Major with a 70

Stephanie Meadow had a rollercoaster opening round of the Amundi Evian Championship – the fourth of five Majors on the LPGA Tour this season – but finished on solid ground after signing for a two-under-par 69, five strokes behind South Africa’s Paula Reto at Évian-les-Bains in France.

As Leona Maguire produced two birdies in her closing three holes to turn her round in the right direction in ultimately opening her bid for a breakthrough career Major with a 70, Meadow’s eventful round by Lake Geneva featured six birdies and four bogeys to lie in tied-19th and on the fringes of contention.

Reto, a winner of the 2022 Canadian Open, claimed a two strokes lead over a quartet of players that featured France’s Céline Boutier, American Alison Lee, Thailand’s Wichanee Meechai and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, the world number three.

“If I can just go out and give myself the best chance possible, good club selection, know where to be on the green, just know when the putts are downhill, uphill, all that stuff to keep my brain occupied with good information. Just go with it. I’m excited,” said the 33-year-old of chasing a first Major.


Boutier, with the pressure of trying to win on home soil, admitted to adopting a fresh approach this year instead of being overcautious. “I feel like especially on this course it’s easy to do because there are danger zones everywhere. It’s really easy to get wrapped into that. This year I just decided to try to approach it as a regular event.”

However, it proved to be a far tougher day for the Irish players in the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl, where defending champion Darren Clarke opened with a two-over-par 73 to trail first-round leader Miguel Ángel Jiménez by seven shots.

Clarke and Lough Erne club professional Damien Mooney were in tied-38th after the opening round. Pádraig Harrington, who has been troubled by a foot injury, opened his round with a double bogey and signed for a four-over 75 (matched by amateur Eddie McCormack and Mark McNulty) to sit in tied-65th and with some work to do to survive the cut.

Jiménez featured a hat-trick of birdies from the fifth hole in moving to the top of the leaderboard, with the Spaniard holding a two-shot lead over Germany’s Alex Cejka. “It’s a Major. It’s my favourite Major,” said Jiménez in reasoning why he plays so well in this particular championship, being a past winner and with three other top-five finishes.

In the Irish Challenge at Headfort Golf Club in Kells, Co Meath, on the Challenge Tour Spain’s Borja Virto and England’s Jamie Rutherford shared the first-round lead after shooting six-under-par 65s.

Dubliner Conor Purcell led the home challenge with a fine finishing stretch of five successive birdies for a 66 to be part of a four-strong group one shot behind the leaders. Purcell came alive in a homeward stretch from the 14th in a birdie blitz that propelled him up the leaderboard, while Dermot McElroy’s 68 had the Ulsterman in a share of 15th after the first round.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times