Mi Hyang Lee sets early 2nd-round lead at 9 under in Evian Championship, Pressel 1 shot back

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France — Mi Hyang Lee was the sole leader at the Evian Championship midway through the second round on Friday while Morgan Pressel gave herself a chance of a second major win after making eight birdies.

Top-ranked Inbee Park, seeking a career Grand Slam, made four birdies on the front nine to reach the turn at 3 under, six shots off the pace.

Lee, whose only victory on the U.S. LPGA Tour was at the 2014 Mizuno Classic, shot a 4-under-par 67 for a 9-under total of 133, with Pressel one shot back.

Alena Sharp of Hamilton, Ont., was the top Canadian at 1-over 143 after firing a 68. Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., had a 74 and was a stroke behind Sharp.

Pressel carded a 65, the lowest score so far at the tournament. She was tied for 12th place when she started the day on the foothills of the French Alps. The American struggled to find the right balance in the rainy and cold morning weather, bogeying twice in her five first holes, but thrived once the sun broke through.

“I didn’t let that bother me, and just kept trying to plug along and make more birdies, and was able to do so,” said Pressel after her best round in 10 Evian appearances.

Pressel’s U.S. Solheim Cup teammate, Lexi Thompson, who shared the lead with Lee at 5 under, started her round late, and dropped to 4 under by the turn.

It was the first time the South Korean held a share of a first-round lead. She coped with the pressure and picked up where she left off on Thursday night. Back on the course at 8:18 am, she birdied the par-4 1st hole and added three more before the turn.

She birdied the par-5 13th but fluffed an easy birdie putt on the par-3 16th after landing a very long iron three feet from the hole, and stumbled with a bogey on the par-4 18th.

Lee credited her new caddie Mike Harig, 69, for her great start to the tournament.

“I’m a young player and he’s pretty old, the oldest caddie on the tour,” she said. “He has a lot of experience, so that’s a lot of help for me.”

Last week’s Helsingborg Open champion, Nicole Broch Larsen, had no problem with the early showers on the shores of Lake Geneva, starting her second round with two birdies in her four first holes. Playing in the Evian Championship for the first time, the Dane hit three more birdies on her back nine to make up for a bogey on the par-3 5th. She carded a 67 that lifted her to a provisional third place on the leaderboard, two shots behind Lee.

Meanwhile, Karrie Webb had another bad day, carding 74 after opening with 72. Webb, who is attempting to win her sixth different major, did not hide her frustration, biting her fingers and slamming the grass with her clubs at least twice on the undulating Evian course.

Samuel Petrequin, The Associated Press

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