Sung Hyun Park made the most of her reprieve Friday at the Evian Championship.
After her nightmarish start to the event on Thursday was scrubbed clean when LPGA officials decided to wipe away first-round scores after a weather suspension, Park made the most of Friday’s re-start.
Park shot 8-under-par 63 to take the early lead through the morning wave. She was 6 over through five holes in wind and rain Thursday when play was scrubbed.
Rolex world No. 1 So Yeon Ryu experienced just the opposite effect in the re-start.
Ryu was eight shots ahead of Park before play was halted Thursday. She’s 12 behind Park now. Ryu was 2 under through six holes when play was erased. She shot 75 on Friday.
The LPGA also decided Thursday to shorten the championship to 54 holes, which leaves just two rounds for players to catch Park.
There’s more than a major at stake this week for Ryu, Park, Lexi Thompson and other top players. The Rolex world No. 1 ranking and Rolex Annika Major Award hang in the balance. So does a chance to go up in the Rolex Player of the Year race.
If Park wins this week, she will take the No. 1 ranking from Ryu. She will also take the Annika Major award, and she will take the top spot in the POY standings, with double points up for grabs in a major.
“If you are So Yeon Ryu, you have to feel some kind of injustice that all your hard work was wasted and Sung Hyun Park’s poor play was completely wiped away,” Golf Channel analyst Karen Stupples, winner of the 2004 Women’s British Open and a former player director on the LPGA Board, said during Friday’s broadcast. “It makes a lot of people feel kind of empty and a bit hollow, really, but there are so many things that go on in the background and in the back room, that we are just not able to be part of. None of us really know what went on there, apart from the commissioner, the players he talked to, the rules officials and the sponsors. Ultimately, as a spectator, I feel kind of empty by it, and the whole thing leaves me a little bit upset, really.”
Park, who won the U.S. Women’s Open in July, made seven birdies, an eagle and a bogey in Friday’s round. She was three shots ahead of Katherine Kirk and four ahead of I.K. Kim and Jessica Korda with the afternoon wave going off. Lydia Ko opened with a 68.
Park hit eight of 13 fairways and all but one green in regulation.
“I forgot about yesterday,” Park said. “I just focused on my play today.”
Even Park said she didn’t expect her poor start to get wiped clean.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn't surprised,” Park said.
Korda had a share of the lead with Ryu when Thursday’s first round was washed away but got herself back in contention Friday.
“I was annoyed until about 9 p.m. last night, and then I was like, ‘All right, screw it, when I wake up, it's a new day. What's done is done,’” Korda said.
Korda is making her first start since withdrawing after the first round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open with a left forearm injury, which caused her to miss the Solheim Cup.
Korda was also eight shots ahead of Park on Thursday. Now, she’s four behind her.
“It sucked because I was playing so well yesterday, and some people weren't playing so well yesterday that are playing well today, and there's nothing I can do about that,” Korda said. “I just need to concentrate on myself.”