There aren't as many low numbers among the early starters at the Evian Masters as I expected, so Becky Brewerton, last week's winner on the LET and the last entrant into the field of 90, stands alone at -5 right now. And her round could even have been better. After making 5 birdies in a 6-hole stretch starting on the par-4 5th, she offset a pair of bogeys on 13 and 14 with a pair of birdies on 16 and 17, but missed great birdie opportunities on the closing par 5s, 15 and 18. Her nearest competitor in the clubhouse is Jin Joo Hong, who opened with 3 bogeys in her 1st 4 holes, but closed with 5 birdies in her last 11 (despite also failing to birdie the 15th and 18th) for a 70. Yuko Mitsuka's comeback was even more intense: +3 through 13, she finished birdie-par-birdie-par-eagle for her 71.
I'll be providing updates off and on through the morning. Be sure to check out the tournament website for preview videos, interviews, and more. And let me know if you could get the live tv to work for you!
[Update 1 (7:07 am): The traditional way to go low at Evian is to take advantage of the front and finish hot. A double bogey on the par-4 6th derailed Anna Nordqvist's attempt to do the first part, but she came back with birdies on 8, 10, and 18 to join Hong at -2. Na Yeon Choi opened with a bogey-free 33, but just bogeyed the 10th to fall back to -2. We'll see if Karine Icher, who matched Choi's front, can avoid her fate on the 10th. Karen Stupples did, and more--she's -4 through 11. Ji Young Oh did, too, until she bogeyed the par-4 12th, but she got back to -3 with a birdie on the par-3 14th. An eagle on the par-4 11th just brought In-Kyung Kim into the -3 club, as well--let's see if she can avoid squandering it like Stacy Lewis (71) did with hers on the 10th. But the player with the best chance to surpass Brewerton at the moment is my pick to win this thing. Yup, Ai Miyazato birdied the 4th, 5th, and 6th to get to -3. She failed to birdie the par-5 7th, but there haven't been as many birdies there thus far today as on the other par 5s. Let's see how she closes out the front.]
[Update 2 (7:12 am): Kim followed up her eagle with a birdie on the 12th, joining Stupples at -4. Sweet!]
[Update 3 (7:16 am): Besides Ai-chan and Inky, other players I like a lot are doing just fine so far. Seon Hwa Lee is -2 through 10, with 3 birdies on the front, so hopefully she's shaken off the back troubles that caused her early WD from the U.S. Women's Open. Momoko Ueda bounced back from her opening bogey with birdies on 2, 4, and 6, so let's see if she can get another on the par-3 8th. And Mika Miyazato, playing with Ai-chan and Momo-chan, birdied 3 and 5 to offset her bogey on 1. Hold on! Ai-chan just birdied the 8th to get to -4. Momo-chan parred it, but Mika-chan bogeyed it.]
[Update 4 (7:21 am): Maria Hjorth has birdied 3 of her 1st 4 holes for the fastest start to the tournament yet. Candie Kung made 3 birdies on the front to offset her 2nd-hole bogey, so watch out for the Lee Westwood of the U.S. Women's Open this week. And Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak also opened with a 3-birdie 34. Wouldn't a win for her this week to join Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb, and Juli Inkster mean a lot to her and her fans?]
[Update 5 (7:26 am): Whoops, Stupples made her 1st big mistake of the day with a bogey on the par-4 12th. Now it's just Inky and Ai-chan at -4. Oh has a great chance to join them as she's playing the 18th. The JLPGA's Mi-Jeong Jeon can join Hong and Nordqvist at -2 with a birdie there, as well.]
[Update 6 (7:31 am): Oh did it. She posted a 68, good enough for 2nd right now.]
[Update 7 (7:33 am): Stacy Lewis on twitter blames her putter and forecasts rain.]
[Update 8 (7:35 am): Don't look now, but Lee birdied 12 and Pak birdied 10 to get to -3.]
[Update 9 (7:39 am): Now that's more like it! Teresa Lu bounced back from a bogey at 17 with an eagle at 18 to also post a 68! Candie Kung (-2 through 11) and Ya Ni Tseng (+2 through 11 thanks to a pair of doubles) have something to shoot for if they want to be the low Taiwanese player this week. Oh, and Stupples joins the ever-growing group at -4 with a bounceback birdie on 13.]
[Update 10 (7:45 am): Speaking of big numbers, what is Nicole Castrale doing with that 76 today so close to the Solheim Cup? Only Martina Eberl can keep her out of a tie with Lotta Wahlin for last place! Laura Diaz only did 2 strokes better, and she's fighting for that last spot on the team. Christina Kim and Jane Park are +3 with a handful of holes left to go, while Michelle Wie and Natalie Gulbis are +2 as they close out the front. What's up with the Americans? Kristy McPherson is low American in the clubhouse with a disappointing 72.]
[Update 11 (7:48 am): Whoops, Stacy Lewis is American, too! But consider this: Italy's Diana Luna (-2 through 12) and Russia's Maria Verchenova (-1 through 9) are outplaying most of the contenders for the US Solheim Cup team. Ouch!]
[Update 12 (7:49 am): Speaking of ouch, a double just derailed Hjorth's hot start. But on the bright side, Ai-chan opened with a 32 and Momo-chan with a 33. And the JLPGA's Jeon did birdie 18 to post a 70.]
[Update 13 (7:53 am): Here's an even bigger ouch! Lu didn't actually eagle 18; she parred it. And with a bogey on the 16th, too, she finished with a 73, not the 68 LPGA.com originally gave her!]
[Update 14 (7:57 am): More ouches. Lorena Ochoa and Angela Stanford each have 0 birdies, 1 bogey, and 1 double to their names in their 1st 6 holes.]
[Update 15 (7:59 am): Even more. England's Melissa Reid, a likely Solheim Cupper who's not shy about her desire to leave the LET for the LPGA, doubled 18 for a 75. Yikes!]
[Update 16 (8:01 am): Still more. Juli Inkster started birdie-bogey-bogey-bogey-double-birdie and now has 2 pars in a row as she heads onto the 9th.]
[Update 17 (8:03 am): How about some good news for a change? Inky and Ai-chan are -5! Kim birdied the par-5 15th and Miyazato birdied the par-4 10th.]
[Update 18 (8:04 am): Meena Lee couldn't make it 2 birdies in a row to finish off her round, but she's the 3rd person to break 70 in the field.]
[Update 19 (8:05 am): How about that? Momo-chan also birdied 10 to get to -4!]
[Update 20 (8:43 am): Girls woke up. Time to feed them. And Ai-chan doubled 12. Oh no!]
[Update 21 (8:44 am): Whoa--and Se Ri tripled 13.]
[Update 22 (8:46 am): Choi birdied 15 and 16 to get to -4. She can tie Brewerton and Kim with a birdie on 18.]
[Update 23 (9:35 am): Choi made it 3 birdies in her last 4 holes to post the 3rd 67 of the day. Icher and Stupples joined Oh at 68. Seon Hwa Lee joined Meena Lee at 69. Ueda is -4 with 3 to play, Miyazato -3. Hjorth is back to -4, thanks to an ongoing 3-hole birdie train from the 9th on. Morgan Pressel opened with 16 straight pars and birdied out to join the big group at 70. I'm out till lunch!]
[Update 24 (11:54 am): Man, Ai-chan can't buy a break! The rains came in as she was finishing her round--don't know if they were a factor in her double/bogey stretch, but after a birdie on the 14th to fight back to -3, she couldn't make another the rest of the way. Momo-chan bogeyed 16 and birdied 17 to also finish at -3--guess it was another LPGA.com mistake that had her at -4 with 3 to go. Karrie Webb birdied 3 of 4 holes as she made the turn and finished with a birdie on the 17th to join them at T8 right now. With play suspended, Hjorth is -3 through 16 and Wendy Ward is -4 through 14.
Ward's making a big push to get into the conversation about Solheim Cup captain's picks. Creamer and Kerr, who will be leading the US team, joined Pressel at -2, so Ward has a great chance to be low American in the 1st round, although she'll have to stay ahead of Pat Hurst and Brittany Lincicome, who are both -2 with a few to play, to do it. Brittany Lang and Natalie Gulbis matched Lewis's 71, while Leta Lindley matched McPherson's 72. So it's not like all the Americans did terribly today. And actually, the damage wasn't complete for the Americans who got off to bad starts: Michelle Wie birdied her last 2 holes to salvage a 73, Juli Inkster birdied 16 and 17 for a 74, Stacy Prammanasudh bogeyed 18 for her 74, and Angela Stanford could still birdie 18 to join Inkster and Prammanasudh. When you consider that Ya Ni Tseng shot a 75, Jane Park's and Christina Kim's don't seem all that bad.
Ji-Yai Shi needed to play her last 10 holes in 2-under to get back to E, while Pettersen bogeyed 18 for hers and Pak ended up at E as well when she couldn't make any bounceback birdies after her triple. So there are plenty of big-name players not playing up to expectations today.]
[Update 25 (12:03 pm): Hound Dog has 2 awesome thinkpieces up today, one on whether majors are really tougher to win and another on the 2010 entry criteria for the Evian Masters and their implications for the LET. Plus his 1st-round overview is coming once the 15 players still on the course complete their rounds.]
[Update 26 (12:13 pm): I wonder what Jeff Skinner will make of this leaderboard. He wants the LPGA's biggest (in his eyes, American) stars to step up this week, but instead we have an LPGA Q-School dropout tied with the best player on tour without a win and perhaps the best Junior Mint on tour at the top of the leaderboard.]
[Update 27 (12:56 pm): Ward finished with a 68 (T4), Hjorth bogeyed 2 of her last 3 for her 70 (T13), Hurst also shot a 70, Ji-Hee Lee of the JLPGA birdied 3 of her last 5 to join them, Gulbis, Lincicome, and Jee Young Lee ended at 71 (T27), Eun-Hee Ji birdied 18 to salvage a 73 (T53), but Stanford couldn't do it so ended up with a 75...just like Ochoa! If you're wondering why Jimin Kang showed up off the alternate list and ended up with a 75, too, well the hot rumor going around Seoul Sisters.com is that Angela Park didn't just DNS from the Evian but may well have retired!]
[Update 28 (6:03 pm): Please see the comments from Pyoung and Jamie, which are practically posts in themselves. And do check out Jamie's extended comments over at Crosscourt Birdies, Hound Dog"s 1st-round overview, and Brian Heard's look at how the Evian purse compares to typical LPGA, LET, and KLPGA purses.]