Lydia Ko was just beginning her opening round of the Evian Championship, the final major of the season, when she no doubt could not help but notice In Gee Chun’s 8-under 63 at the top of the pack
"I'm not really a big leaderboard looker, watcher," the defending champion said on the eve of Thursday’s start to the final major of the season. "I like to know what position I am in and what I need to do down the stretch or if I'm around the cut line what I need to do coming home. But no, obviously I don't really pay attention to everything that's going around."
It would be difficult for the two-time major winner not to pay attention to how Chun decimated the Evian Resort Golf Club in Evians-les-Bains, France, during the morning wave. The 2015 U.S. Women’s Open victor cruised to the clubhouse lead on the strength of eight birdies and a flawless day of ball striking.
For Ko, who set one of her myriad "youngest ever" records when she became the youngest winner of a women’s major at the Evian in 2015, there’s more on the line than a title defense. The world No. 1 is in a battle with second- and third-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn and Brooke Henderson for the Rolex Annika Major Award. One of the three will likely chalk up enough points to grab the crown for "most outstanding record" in the LPGA Tour’s five majors.
Jutanugarn won the Women’s British Open in July and finished her first round of the Evian with a 73. Her sister Moriya fared far better, carding a 69.
Henderson, the winner of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in June, was also among the afternoon wave of players.
As for Chun’s 63, it’s been done before. By Ko, of course, who fired an 8-under in the final round of last year’s contest to stroll to a six-shot, come-from-behind win. And that, after she was three shots off Lexi Thompson’s lead seven holes into the 2015 finale.
Unlike Ko, we’re guessing Chun will be keeping a close eye on the scoreboard the rest of the day -- and not only with Lydia lurking. Annie Park made the turn at 4-under 28, thanks to back-to-back birdies on holes 11 and 12 and an eagle at the par-5 13th