Evian Championship 2021: Pajaree Anannarukarn, Yealimi Noh Share Round 1 Lead

Adam WellsJuly 22, 2021

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE - JULY 22: Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand plays her second shot on hole 18 during day one of the The Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club on July 22, 2021 in Evian-les-Bains, France. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

The 2021 Evian Championship kicked off on Thursday, with Pajaree Anannarukarn and Yealimi Noh sharing the lead after 18 holes. 

Anannarukarn and Noh finished with matching scores of six under par. There's a large contingent of challengers right on their heels, with five players tied in third place at five under. 

Fifty-five players finished the day in France under par. Nelly Korda wasn't among them, as the world's top-ranked player had a disappointing three-over 74. 

2021 Evian Championship Leaderboard:  Round 1

T1. Pajaree Anannarukarn (-6)

T1. Yealimi Noh (-6)

T3. Lauren Stephenson (-5)

T3. Emily Kristine Pedersen (-5)

T3. Jeongeun Lee6 (-5)

T3. Atthaya Thitikul (-5)

T3. Ayaka Furue (-5)

T8. Ariya Jutanugarn (-4)

T8. Hyo Joo Kim (-4)

T8. Sarah Kemp (-4)

Full leaderboard via EvianChampionship.com

In just her third full season on the LPGA Tour, Anannarukarn put together one of her best single-round performances Thursday. 

LPGA Media @LPGAMedia

6-under 65 βœ…<br>Career-low round in a major βœ…<br><br>Pajaree Anannarukarn πŸ‡ΉπŸ‡­ opens the <a href="https://twitter.com/EvianChamp?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EvianChamp</a> in style 😎 and is the co-leader in the clubhouse <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EvianChamp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EvianChamp</a> <a href="https://t.co/KTFTHzkkQH">pic.twitter.com/KTFTHzkkQH</a>

The 22-year-old played bogey-free in the first round. Thursday's 65 marks her lowest individual round in any tournament since the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand in May (63). 

Ladies European Tour @LETgolf

Pajaree Anannarukarn finishes with a birdie to sign for a 66 (-6) πŸ₯<br><br>A flying start to The <a href="https://twitter.com/EvianChamp?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EvianChamp</a> for the 22-year-old ⚑️<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RaiseOurGame?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RaiseOurGame</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EvianChamp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EvianChamp</a> <a href="https://t.co/zo9l1ZsKic">pic.twitter.com/zo9l1ZsKic</a>

This marks Anannarukarn's first appearance in the Evian Championship. She hasn't finished higher than 28th in the previous three Grand Slam events this season. 

Even though this is mostly uncharted territory for the Thai, her steady performance right from the jump is a strong indication that she can hang around the top of the leaderboard all weekend.

The same could also be said for Noh. Her only blemish was a bogey on the par-four fourth hole, but she started her day in style with an eagle on No. 1. 

LPGA Media @LPGAMedia

.<a href="https://twitter.com/YealimiNoh?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@YealimiNoh</a> puts together a season-best score and career-low round in a major championship of 6-under 65. She started the <a href="https://twitter.com/EvianChamp?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@EvianChamp</a> with an πŸ¦… on the par-4 1st and is tied for the lead. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EvianChamp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EvianChamp</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZsDjSXSsR4">pic.twitter.com/ZsDjSXSsR4</a>

β€œI think it’s the first time I’ve ever done that,” Noh told reporters about her eagle after finishing the round. β€œI was just like, what? Like OK. It was really cool.”

The San Francisco native has been steadily building toward a round like this under a spotlight this bright. She tied for third at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational last week, including a career-low score of 62 in the second round. 

Since the Evian Championship became a major tournament in 2013, the youngest winner of this event was Hyo Joo Kim (19). Noh, who is also 19, would tie Kim if she can leave Evian Resort Golf Club with a victory. 

Among the group tied for third place, Emily Kristine Pedersen had two spectacular moments on Nos. 9 and 18. She eagled both holes to bring her overall score to five under. 

Ladies European Tour @LETgolf

That's how to finish a round in style πŸ”₯<a href="https://twitter.com/emilypedersen96?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@emilypedersen96</a> with a monster eagle to finish on 66 (-5)<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RaiseOurGame?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RaiseOurGame</a> | <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/EvianChamp?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#EvianChamp</a> <a href="https://t.co/SLv9uyLbGm">pic.twitter.com/SLv9uyLbGm</a>

The Dane hasn't competed in the Evian Championship since 2017. The 25-year-old is playing just her fourth tournament of the year, and 66 is her lowest score in 13 LPGA Tour rounds this season. 

While there were several pleasant surprises in the opening round, there are a number of top stars who have work to do Friday if they want to make the cut. 

Korda is tied for 99th at three over par in her first appearance since winning the Women's PGA Championship in June. She entered the Evian Championship coming off back-to-back victories. Her worst finish in a tournament this season is 25th at the Pure Silk Championship in May.

Jin Young Ko, the 2019 champion in this tournament, fared slightly better than Korda in the opening round. She is tied for 76th at one over. The South Korean star is coming off a win of her own at the Volunteers of America Classic three weeks ago. 

The second round will tee off at 1:30 a.m. ET.