Stacy Lewis takes lead with 63 at Evian Masters

Stacy Lewis is ranked No. 3 in the world, the highest of any American.
Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, France (AP) – Stacy Lewis had seven consecutive birdies and tied 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 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.''

It marked Lewis' career-low round. Her previous low was 64, which she shot in the second and fourth rounds of the LPGA Classic in June.

Park, who used a belly putter for the first time, made five straight birdies on the front nine.

South Korea's Ilhee Lee finished three shots behind Lewis. Colombia's Mariajo Uribe and Japan's Mika Miyazato are four behind after 67s. American Paula Creamer shot a 68.

Defending champion Ai Miyazato, who also won in 2009, had three bogeys on the back and finished with a birdie for a 71. She was joined by Juli Inkster and Cheyenne Woods, Tigers Woods' niece, who trailed the leader by eight shots.

Michelle Wie, who tied for second place in Evian six years ago, shot a 73. Top-ranked Yani Tseng had a 76, compounded by a wild shot into the rough on the 18th.

Park, who failed to make the cut at the U.S. Women's Open three weeks ago, had a bogey on the fourth hole before her run of birdies. She added three more on the back nine. After shooting 6 under in the pro-am tournament on Wednesday, she sensed the belly putter would work for her.

“I have been playing 15 years, and I have never used the belly putter before,'' said Park, who won her only LPGA Tour title at last year's season-ending Titleholders. “Then, like 10 days ago, I just changed (to) the belly putter.

“My people around me (were) saying `Did you know that Ernie Els won (the British Open) last week with the belly putter? Did you see that?' Then I got more confidence.''

Wie struggled with her putting.

“I felt like I played a lot better than my score,'' Wie said. “I hit it good, but it didn't go in, that was a bit frustrating and affected my momentum.

Tseng's shot on No. 18 landed deep in the rough at an awkward angle, just above the water. The five-time major winner saved par, but finished with five bogeys and one birdie.