Kim makes history at Evian

Hyo Joo Kim fired a stunning 10-under-par 61 – the lowest ever round in a men’s or women’s major – to take a four stroke lead after the first round of the Evian Championship in France.

The 19-year-old from South Korea fired 10 birdies on a sunny day at the Evian Resort Golf Club, with five on both the front and back nine.

“My goal is have a good experience in here. That’s all,” said Kim, through a translator.

Kim, with four professional victories in total, had previously shot an 11-under-par 61 on the LPGA of Japan in 2013.

The World No.20, who leads the Korean LPGA money list after three wins this season, birdied the first, third, fourth, sixth and ninth holes. She then continued with birdies on holes 11, 13, 14, 16 and 18 to seal the lowest round in a Major and the tournament record for 18 holes on the redesigned Evian Resort Golf Course.

The previous lowest round in a women’s major championship was 62, by Minea Blomqvist at the 2004 Women’s British Open at Sunningdale, which was equalled by Lorena Ochoa at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship. The lowest round in a men’s major is 63 which has been recorded multiple times.

Kim’s caddie, Gordon Rowan, from Ayrshire in Scotland, was also on her bag when she tied for fourth in the 2012 Evian Masters at the same venue as an amateur and he said: “She has a very good all round game. She’s not a massive hitter but has a very decent length and keeps up with the girls but she’s so straight and this is a course where you need to hit fairways because the rough is very thick.

“Her accuracy into the greens means that she’s never far away. She also has a very good temperament and even on days when she’s fighting and putts don’t fall she keeps going and going and going.”

Kim is a freshman at Seoul University studying Physical Education and when asked about her favourite golfer she said, ‘Adam Scott’ and was then highly excited to learn that Annika Sorenstam was on site at Evian.

Australian Karrie Webb, the 2006 Evian Masters champion, is four strokes behind Kim in second position after opening with six-under-par 65, containing eight birdies and two bogeys, while South Korean MJ Hur is a stroke further behind in solo third.

The defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway opened with a four-under 67 to share fourth place with Brittany Lincicome of the United States.

A large group of six players including last week’s Helsingborg Open champion Dewi-Claire Schreefel from the Netherlands and French Solheim Cup player Karine Icher share sixth place on three-under-par.

World No.3 Lydia Ko, 17, the runner-up as an amateur in 2013, opened with a two-under-par 69 to share 12th place and there was a solid performance from Dame Laura Davies, who shot a one-under-par 70 to lie in a share of 28th.

Michelle Wie, the US Women’s Open champion, retired after 13 holes during the first round due to pain from a stress reaction in her right index finger, having last played at the Meijer LPGA Classic in early August, where she had to retire for the same reason during the first round.

“I had hoped it was a week later, but, you know, I just really wanted to come to France. I really love this tournament,” said Wie. “It was at a point where it was touch and go. I just wanted so see if I could play. The doctors just told me, ‘It’s all up to you.’ It just depends on if it hurts or not. But they did tell me if it did hurt to stop right away just because it could get worse.

“I was out there and I knew I should have stopped earlier but I was having so much fun out there I wanted to keep playing. But it got to the point where it was too painful. So I just made the smart decision to not play.”

Despite not finishing the championship, Wie could still win the inaugural Rolex Annika Major Award for the most outstanding record in all five major championships this season, which will be decided this weekend.