Carlota Ciganda shot a bogey-free six-under-par 65 in beautiful weather conditions on Thursday morning to set the pace in The Evian Championship, the final major of 2018.
The long-hitting 28-year-old from Pamplona, Spain, thrilled the galleries with six birdies, including three on the four par-5s on the Evian Resort Golf Course in Evian-les-Bains, France.
The 2012 Ladies European Tour rookie of the year and order of merit winner started at the 10th and picked up her first shots at the long 13th and 15th, before making the turn with a birdie on the difficult par-4 18th hole.
Another birdie followed at the first, followed by another at the short eighth and the par-5 ninth hole.
Ciganda, who has six wins on the world’s professional tours, said afterwards that she is not thinking about winning her first major.
“I don’t want to think about winning. It’s only the first day. Three more days to play lots of golf, and so just keep playing.
“It was great round for me today. I played very solid. Off the tee I hit all the fairways and then I was hitting close on the greens, especially the back nine, which was my front nine.
“Also my putting was very solid. I make some good putts. Save on 16 for par. Then I play really good on the par-5s, 3-under.
“I love this place. I love playing in Europe. My friends are here, some friends, so really like the atmosphere.”
The next best placed players in the clubhouse are Canadian Brooke Henderson and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka on four-under-par.
Ciganda’s Solheim Cup teammate Caroline Masson from Germany was four-under-par after eight holes after three successive birdies from the 11th and another at the par-3 17th hole.
Another Solheim Cup player, Georgia Hall, was three-under-par after eight holes after carding birdies at the third, sixth and eighth holes. Hall is looking for back-to-back major titles following her victory in the Ricoh Women’s British Open last month.