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Pauline Roussin-Bouchard 19 shots better than her last Evian opening round

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The first time that Pauline Roussin-Bouchard competed in the Evian Championship, she wasn't even in college yet. The incoming South Carolina recruit would miss the cut after rounds of 87-78.

Two years later, Roussin-Bouchard is a much different player.

The amateur standout is fresh off a four-win sophomore campaign with the Gamecocks and entered this week ranked sixth in the Women's World Amateur Golf Ranking (her career-best rank is No. 1). She also is stronger, dedicating more time to fitness dating to last summer's quarantine, and has added more than 10 yards off the tee because of it. Her diet has changed, too, as last fall she cut out gluten, wheat, flour and some dairy.

"I really upped the way I've been practicing in South Carolina," she said. "It's a structure that I love, and the way I practice there and the way I get prepared for tournaments, whether it's collegiate or a U.S. Open, I'm just going to practice as much as I can and the best way I can to be prepared because I have a larger picture and a further purpose, and so I think about that when I play.

"I guess it was just getting prepared the right way for small tournaments to get prepared for bigger tournaments."

Her growth since that major debut in France has shown in those big events. She made the cut at the U.S. Women's Open last December and a few months later placed third at the Augusta National Women's Amateur. She did have a down week at the NCAA Championship in May, but she rallied admirably after an opening 81 to tie for 20th.

Full-field scores from The Amundi Evian Championship

Now, back at Evian Resort Golf Club, Roussin-Bouchard got off to a nice start Thursday with a 3-under 68. She only made one bogey all day while pouring in four birdie putts, including a bonus birdie roll at the par-4 second hole, her 11th of the round.

"Ended up a little bit long," she said of her approach, "and then holed out that very long putt."

Roussin-Bouchard, who is from Toulon on the southern coast of France, might not be a local favorite this week, but she still feels the home support.

"I'm most of the time in the U.S., and so being here, people are here to support the French people, the Frenchies, and that's what really nice about it," she said. "It's just special."

So, too, is that 19-shot improvement between Evian first rounds.