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Hull leads european charge

Charley Hull of England during the first round. Credit: Tristan Jones/LET
Charley Hull of England during the first round. Credit: Tristan Jones/LET

England’s Charley Hull is three strokes off the pace as she seeks her first Major title in The Amundi Evian Championship.

The 26-year-old from Kettering shot an opening round of five-under-par 66 to sit three behind the first round leader, Ayaka Furue of Japan, at Evian Resort Golf Club in France on Thursday.

Canadian Brooke Henderson and Nelly Korda of the United States are tied for second, while fellow US player Cheyenne Knight lies in solo fourth.

Hull feels refreshed after three weeks spent at home, where she only played 18 holes of golf twice and spent a lot of time “chilling.”

“It’s the English summer at the moment and a heat wave, so I would have missed out if I hadn’t taken a break,” said the Rolex Rankings number 38. “I went for a lot of walks to get in my 15,000 steps per day.”

Hull started at the 10th and birdied the par-3 14th, the par-4 17th and the par-5 18th, before picking up three further shots at the par-3 second, the par-4 third and the par-4 sixth hole.

She said: “I played pretty solid all day, but it’s a Major and there are three more rounds, so anything can happen.”

This is her ninth appearance in the championship and she feels that she has the experience to navigate the sloping fairways and undulating greens.

“This course can be tricky to score around, but after eight or nine years you start to figure it out,” she added, continuing: “I don’t really think too much, because the course where I grew up, Kettering Golf Club, is pretty much as slopey as this on the fairways, so I’m lucky I don’t have to think too much about adjusting, I’ve always automatically adjusted (to playing side hill lies).”

The next best placed LET members are Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Swedish pair Anna Nordqvist and Linn Grant in a tie for 10th position on four-under-par.

“I love majors. I love the challenge,” said Nordqvist, a three-time Major winner who won this championship in 2017 and comes into the week fresh off a victory in the Big Green Egg Open on Sunday.

Grant, a three-time winner on the LET this year, is playing in the championship for the first time and added: “If you’d have told me that I wad going to shoot minus four today, I would have been happy. There are always more chances to make a better score.

“I had a nice tap-in birdie on 11 and otherwise just solid wedges and solid irons. I think I hit 17 fairways and 16 greens, so very solid from tee to green. I missed a couple of short putts, but that’s golf I guess.”

She felt that playing in the Jabra Ladies Open presented by Bitstamp two months ago was a great rehearsal. When we were here in May the greens were so firm, so when I got here in the beginning of the week it was just like, this is perfect. Like you can actually hit it on the green and get it to stop.

“So I just think that, for me, I’m happy that I played, because now I feel the golf course is easier, which is actually pretty nice.”