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September 26, 2017

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Lewis fires 7 consecutive birdies at Evian Masters

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France -- Stacy Lewis enjoyed seven consecutive birdies and tying the Evian Masters record with a 9-under 63 in the opening round on Thursday.

Her birdie flurry from holes 5-11, plus two more on 17 and 18, helped Lewis to a two-shot lead over early front-runner Hee Young Park of South Korea.

Lewis matched three-time champion Helen Alfredsson's round of 63, set by the Swede in 2008.

"I know I've made six (birdies) in a row before, but I don't know if I've made seven ... I almost made eight," Lewis said. "I definitely think this is one of the lowest rounds I've ever shot. I think it is."

Park, who used a belly putter for the first time in her career, was also in clinical form and sank five straight birdies on the front nine.

South Korea's Ilhee Lee is three shots behind Lewis in third place. Colombia's Mariajo Uribe and Japan's Mika Miyazato are both four behind after 67s.

Park started shakily with a bogey on the fourth hole before her run of birdies. She added three more on the back nine. After shooting 6 under in Wednesday's pro-am tournament, she sensed the belly putter would work for her.

Having failed to make the cut at the U.S. Women's Open three weeks ago, Park's relief at finding her form was evident. She put it down to taking some much-needed time off.

"Before Evian I had a two-week break, where I did some other sports; swim, kayak, bike, tennis — everything refreshed my body," she said. "(I was) kind of frustrated after the U.S. Open, I needed to forget about it. "

Defending champion Ai Miyazato of Japan, who also won in 2009, started well with three birdies on the front nine, but three bogeys on the back nine saw her drop behind. She rescued the day with a birdie on the final hole for a 1-under 71 — eight behind Lewis.

Michelle Wie, who tied for second place in Evian six years ago, was undone by her putting.

Five-time major winner Yani Tseng's miserable round was compounded by a wild shot into the rough on the 18th. Her shot landed deep in the rough, at an awkward angle and just above the water. Tseng drove the ball well but it just failed to clear the bunker.

Although the top-ranked Tseng saved par, overall she had five bogeys against one birdie and drifted way out of contention at 4-over.

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