Everyone expected Caeleb Dressel to be one of the swimming stars of the Tokyo Games, and the American lived up to the hype on Thursday. 

Dressel started strongly and held off rival Kyle Chalmers of Australia at the end to win the 100m freestyle, the 24-year-old's first individual Olympic gold after taking two relay wins in Rio and one earlier this week.

The Floridian swam the 100m free three times in Rio and his time got worse from the preliminaries to the semi-finals to the final, ultimately leaving him sixth overall at 48.02 while Chalmers won gold with a 47.58.

This time, Dressel was at his best when it mattered most, posting a 47.02 to break an Olympic record that had stood since Beijing 2008.

Afterward, he described winning his first individual gold as a weight off his shoulders.

"It is different," Dressel said. "I didn't want to admit it but now that I did it, I can.

"It's a lot different – you can't rely on anyone else. It's just you and the water, there's no one there to bail you out. It's tough."

Winning the gold in a head-to-head showdown with the reigning champion made victory even sweeter.

"It's so fun going with Kyle – I mean, every time we make it good," Dressel said. "It's really fun to watch when we go head-to-head.

"I've got nothing but respect for him."

CROATIA'S ROWING BROTHERS GOLDEN AGAIN

Brothers Valent and Martin Sinkovic have teamed up to win a rowing medal for the third consecutive Olympics. 

The Croatians took gold in the men's coxless pair event at Sea Forest Waterway, leading throughout the race and winning by 1.29 seconds over Romania's Marius Cozmiuc and Ciprian Tudosa.

The Sinkovic siblings won gold in the double sculls five years ago in Rio after making up half of Croatia's quadruple sculls team that took the silver medal in London in 2012.

They are the first rowers to win gold in both the pair and double sculls since Canada's Kathleen Heddle and Marnie McBean did it in 1992 and 1996.

"It's an unbelievable feeling, hard to describe," said Valent, the older of the pair at 32. "This is like a new gold medal for us because it's in a second discipline, so we celebrate it like it's the first one for us.

"We couldn't be happier. Everything went as planned, we executed the race perfectly."

As for looking toward a potential fourth medal at Paris 2024, Martin Sinkovic said the brothers were done with pairs competitions but might look to row the four in three years' time. 

RIO POLE VAULT BRONZE MEDALLIST OUT WITH COVID

Sam Kendricks of the USA, the 2016 bronze medallist and 2017 world champion in the pole vault, has tested positive for COVID-19 and will not compete in Tokyo, the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee announced.

The USOPC said Kendricks has been transferred to a hotel and been placed in isolation in accordance with protocols.

"Sam is an incredible and accomplished member of Team USA and his presence will be missed," the USOPC said. "Out of respect for his privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time."

Earlier on Thursday in its daily media briefing, the International Olympic Committee said three athletes were among the 24 people who had come back positive for COVID-19 in the most recent round of testing.

STRAKA HAS CLUBHOUSE LEAD AS GOLF GETS UNDER WAY

Austria's Sepp Straka went out with the first grouping in the opening round of the men's golf tournament and set the pace for everyone who teed off behind him, taking the clubhouse lead with a 63 on Thursday morning.

Ranked 161st in the world this week after missing the cut at six of his last seven PGA Tour events, Straka turned in a bogey-free round at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, carding four birdies on the front nine and four more on the back.

Thomas Pieters of Belgium and Carlos Ortiz of Mexico finished with six-under-par 65s among the early starters to sit two back of the lead.

Several major winners including Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama and Collin Morikawa were still on the course.

AUSTRALIA OPEN RUGBY SEVENS DEFENCE WITH ROUT

Defending women's rugby sevens gold medallists Australia made a statement as they opened pool play with a crushing 48-0 defeat of hosts Japan after leading 24-0 at half-time.

Emma Tonegato got three tries while Demi Hayes and debutant Maddison Levi had two each for Australia, who face China later on Thursday.

"I definitely was concerned about this game," said Australia's head coach John Manenti. "Japan, playing at home, it would be very emotional for them and the pressures and expectations could have built on us.

"But I was really pleased with that clinical first half. We could relax at the end of the game and give a few of the girls debuts."

New Zealand, beaten finalists at Rio 2016, began their Tokyo campaign with a 29-7 win over Kenya.

REIGNING BMX GOLD MEDALLISTS ADVANCE TO SEMIS

BMX racers opened competition at Ariake Urban Sports Park, with defending gold medallist Connor Fields of the USA and current world number one Sylvain Andre of France among those booking their spots in the semi-finals.

Andre's countryman Joris Daudet had the top time of the day in his last run to make Friday's semis along with Rio 2016 bronze medallist Carlos Ramirez of Colombia.

On the women's side, world number one and Rio 2016 gold medallist Mariana Pajon of Colombia won all three of her preliminary races to advance, along with 2016 silver medallist Alise Willoughby of the USA.

Willoughby's team-mate Felecia Stancil turned in the best overall time of the day on her first run and also is one of the 16 semi-finalists.

Justin Thomas described being involved at the Tokyo Olympics as "the coolest thing I've ever been a part of" as he said taking the gold medal would be "the absolute ultimate".

Golf is being staged at the Games for just the fourth time ever and the second time since 1904, having returned to the schedule in Rio five years ago.

The field is not the strongest, with Bryson DeChambeau and world number one Jon Rahm pulling out with coronavirus, while Dustin Johnson, Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia opted not to play and Brooks Koepka failed to qualify.

But many other big names will take part, including ​world number four Thomas, who won his only major at the US PGA Championship in 2017 and is among those targeting a medal at Kasumigaseki Country Club.

The United States are the only nation with more than two golfers taking part in the event and Thomas says the chance to win gold for his nation is what makes this event so unique.

"It might be the coolest thing I've been a part of. It's not very often where you get so excited about being a part of a tournament," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

"I really do truly think of Ryder Cups, majors, whatever it is, this is the coolest thing I've ever been a part of. It's unbelievable. Everyone is going to think differently about it.

"I know there's some people who don't think it's that big a deal and don't think it's that cool. 

"I don't know what it is but maybe it's just because being an Olympian, you're known as the best athlete in the world and it's something that golf isn't exactly always linked to."

Asked whether he would rather win a major championship or an Olympic medal, Thomas replied: "If I was going to choose, I'll take the major. 

"But this is something that would mean the absolute ultimate. It would just be the coolest thing to just be able to say not only did you play in it but that you won a gold medal.

"It's just so different. I've tried to compare it, I've tried to think about it.

"This is obviously more special because it's harder to win because you have less chances, but major championships change your life in more than one way."

Like Thomas, Ireland's Rory McIlroy will tee off at the Olympics for the first time when the delayed 2020 event gets up and running on Thursday.

Four-time major winner McIlroy sampled the the course on Tuesday and was impressed by the quality, though he is disappointed that no supporters will be in attendance this week.

"When Hideki [Matsuyama, of Japan] won the Masters, the first thing I thought of was how good is the atmosphere going to be at the Olympics," McIlroy said.

"Unfortunately, that's not the case. So yeah, it's tough.

"It's not the Olympic experience anyone dreams of having. I was even saying to Shane [Lowry] how good would it be to go and watch some of the other events this evening. 

"That's the unfortunate part about it, but there's three medals up for grabs, and we're all here trying to play for them."

McIlroy, who has been drawn with tournament favourite Collin Morikawa and South Korea's Sungjae Im, added: "The course itself is great. It's really, really nice.

"I've always been a big fan of Tom Fazio courses anyway. I'm trying to sort of think what I could compare it to back in the States, but it's a really fun golf course

"It's in great shape, obviously. It's immaculate. There's plenty of opportunities out there for birdies, but if you don't hit the fairways, the rough is pretty penal in spots."

Ireland's other representative in the men's golf tournament is Shane Lowry, who is ranked 40th in the world but is eager to challenge for a top-three finish.

"What people don't understand is we don't win too many medals," he said. "So I think it would be huge for me and huge for the country.

"Obviously it's going to take a lot of good golf. It's going to take something special this week. But it would mean an awful lot to me."

Japan's great golf hope Hideki Matsuyama has revealed he feared he would miss the Tokyo Olympics when he tested positive for COVID-19.

The Masters champion pulled out before the second round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit on July 2, and the 29-year-old has not played competitive golf since, missing out on the Open Championship.

He has also not had a top-20 finish since landing green jacket glory at Augusta National in April, slightly dampening hopes of a home gold medallist at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, where the men's tournament begins on Thursday.

Matsuyama hopes a strong mental approach can stand him in good stead as he returns to a course that holds fond memories for the 29-year-old.

It is where he won the 2010 Asia-Pacific Amateur Championship, securing him a first ticket to The Masters and serving as a springboard for his professional career.

"To be able to represent Japan and play in my home country and a home Olympics, this is probably the first and last time I'll be able to do that," Matsuyama said in a news conference on Tuesday.

"Three weeks ago I got tested positive for COVID-19 and wasn't really sure I'd be able to make it to this stage here. Now I'm here and I'm very happy to be able to be here.

"I tested positive for COVID for about 10 days in duration. During that time I was unable to practise, but once I got back to Japan I started practising.

"Hopefully I'll be able to be in the best form possible for the event this week."

Matsuyama said he was "very happy" to test negative ahead of the Olympics, and the significance of the venue is not lost on him.

"In a way, Kasumigaseki has been the place and catalyst for me to progress and grow," he said. "Hopefully I can do the same this week and move on to another level. 

"Since my Masters win, I haven't had the best results so far this summer, so I'm a little bit nervous, but I'm really looking forward to it. I think it's going to be fun and I'm going to try my best to do well.

"I'm going to try to overcome any physical deficit with the mental side."

With his golf commitments, Matsuyama said he had found little time to watch fellow Japanese competitors from other sports in the Games, although he has been keeping tabs on their success in the medals table, with the hosts challenging near the top.

"Hopefully I can follow their footsteps and be in a position to win a medal as well," he said.

Cameron Champ's three-day charge up the 3M Open leaderboard ended at the top on Sunday as the American took his third PGA Tour title.

Champ spread five birdies throughout a bogey-free final round at TPC Twin Cities, shooting 66 to finish the tournament at 15 under par.

That was two strokes better overall than the trio of Louis Oosthuizen (66), Charl Schwartzel (68) and Jhonattan Vegas (68), who tied for second at 13 under.

The 26-year-old Californian winner looked like he would need that cushion on the final hole as he yanked his tee shot well off the fairway, but a perfect approach shot gave him a two-foot putt for par and the title.

Champ battled his own body at times in the Minnesota heat, moving slowly late in his round and occasionally bending over while waiting to hit his shots.

He hung on at the end, though, adding a third title to his previous two PGA Tour wins at the 2019 Safeway Open and the 2018 Sanderson Farms Championship.

"I was definitely dehydrated, but obviously I feel a lot better now," Champ told reporters, adding that he began to feel light-headed when he bent down to place or pick up his ball marker.

"Not sure why I was, because I drank a lot of water. You have so much adrenaline going and I was just trying to control that."

Sunday's near-miss was a familiar feeling for all three of the men who shared second place.

Oosthuizen has been runner-up in four of his last seven starts, while Vegas finished second for the third time this season and Schwartzel for the second time.

Keith Mitchell (67) finished a shot behind that trio to take fifth place, a day after recording seven consecutive birdies on the back nine.

Third-round leader Cam Tringale had a desperate day, shooting 74 to finish six strokes back of Champ at nine under.

Among other notables, Sergio Garcia (67) finished at eight under after his best round of the week, while Rickie Fowler and Patrick Reed were at six under after closing with 71s.

Paul Authurs won the Lindy Delapenha Golf Classic held at the Caymanas Golf Club recently. The charity event was in its fourth staging following a one-year absence due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The tournament that is sanctioned by the Jamaica Golf Association (JGA) was first staged by the Munro College Old Boys Association (MCOBA) to commemorate the life of celebrated sportsman and broadcaster Lindy Delapenha, who was a student at Munro College.

Authurs scored 41 points to be crowned the overall champion in the tournament contested by the Stableford method. Meanwhile, Jodi Munn-Barrow emerged the winner among the women while Diane Hudson, Yadires Fonseca and Jennifer Mendes were second, third and fourth, respectively.

In the male category, Erik Gutierrez was first, Jose Melo finished second while Gordon Munn was third.

Clive Newman won the Male Senior category and Bela Szabo and Nigel Davy were second and third, respectively. Former Sportsmax President and CEO, Oliver McIntosh, was fourth and former Cricket West Indies president, Dave Cameron, was fifth.

Fred Sutherland was first in the Male Super Senior category followed by Dave Lyn and Peter Chin, the latter being Jamaica Golf Association President and CEO of Alliance Investments.

Nearest to the Pin Winners were Jodi Munn-Barrow (Hole #3), Dale Wanliss (Hole #8), Dennis Atkinson (Hole #10) and George Wright (Hole #17).

The Lindy Delaphena Golf Classic that serves as a major fundraiser for Sports and Academic Programmes at Munro College, this year raised a record $1.5m, with more than 40 sponsors coming onboard including Alliance Investment, the title sponsor, as well as platinum-sponsors Keller Williams Realty, JMMB Bank, Jamaica Inn, Spanish Court Hotel, ATL Motors (Audi, VW, Honda, Kia) and several other Tee Hole Sponsors. 

“This flagship event was a major success. With so many sponsors supporting the vision and raising the profile of the event and more so realizing record revenues to assist our beloved alma mater, Munro College, we are absolutely blown away,” said Tournament Manager, Telroy Morgan, who hailed the event as a major success.

During the tournament, Delaphena’s ashes were sprinkled by a palm tree near the ninth hole as per his last request. His family and the MCOBA erected a headstone nearby that was unveiled by the Minister of Sports, Olivia Grange.

MCOBA President, Victor Tomlinson, was delighted with all aspects of the event and thanked the many golfers, sponsors and donors, and more so the management and organizing committee of the event.

“There is tremendous potential for the event and plans are afoot to grow the event to attract golfers and sponsors regionally and internationally,” he noted.

Spaniard Nacho Elvira beat Justin Harding in a play-off to seal a first European Tour win at the Cazoo Open supported by Gareth Bale on Sunday.

World number 694 Elvira had gone into the final day with a six-shot lead, but the 34-year-old was caught by the chasing pack at the Celtic Manor Resort in Wales.

He three-putted on the final hole to sign for a 71 and finish at 16 under alongside Harding, who had carded a superb 65.

It was Harding's turn to three putt the par-five 18th in the play-off, though, handing Elvira victory at the 195th attempt on the European Tour.

"It means the world," Elvira said. "That's what we practise for and what we strive for. We try to win, to be at the best level on the European Tour and play with the best.

"I thought I had it all pretty under control but to be honest I got pretty nervous on the last couple of putts on the regular 18. I was more calm in the play-off than I was on the 18.

"It's a shame to see someone miss a putt, I suppose they felt the same for me when I missed, but I can't believe I won."

Finn Mikko Korhonen finished at 15 under after a 66, one clear of Englishman Callum Shinkwin who ended the tournament – which received backing from Real Madrid and Wales superstar Bale – with a 67.

A record-equalling comeback from Minjee Lee saw the Australian seal her first major title at the Evian Championship on Sunday.

Lee beat Jeongeun Lee in a play-off on the par-five 18th, with the South Korean finding the water to give the 25-year-old three chances to secure victory.

Though she missed her eagle putt, Lee nudged in for a birdie to cap a comeback which matches the previous best in a woman's major.

Lee started the day seven shots off the pace, but carded a brilliant 64 to match Patty Sheehan (at the LPGA in 1983) and her compatriot Karrie Webb (at the 2006 Kraft Nabisco) in the history books.

Her triumph has been one which looked to be coming for some time, with Lee – who birdied four of her last five holes to return to the clubhouse at 18 under par – having come close at the ANA Inspiration and the British Open.

Jeongeun Lee, the 2019 US Open champion, let her lead slip on the front nine, though recovered to have an opportunity to win with an eagle putt, which she failed to take.

American teenager Yealimi Noh missed out on the play-off by a shot, with Japan's Akaya Furue two strokes further back, ahead of Atthaya Thitikul at the Evian Resort Golf Club.

"I never thought about winning while playing, I just tried to make as many birdies as I could, I saw the leaderboard maybe once or twice," a jubilant Lee said.

"I just tried to play to the best of my ability and it’s really great to win a major!"

Lee's triumph came just a couple of weeks after her sister, Min Woo, won the Scottish Open.
.

Jon Rahm has been ruled out of competing at the Tokyo Olympics after testing positive for COVID-19.

The Spanish Olympic Committee announced the world number one had returned a positive result on his third PCR test after competing at The Open at Royal St George's, having previously recorded two negative outcomes ahead of his appearance at the Games.

American Bryson DeChambeau was also ruled out of competing for the same reason on Sunday, having not yet travelled to play in Japan.

For Rahm, it is the second time he has tested positive in as many months. He had to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament on the PGA Tour when leading by six shots after 54 holes.

The 26-year-old won the U.S. Open upon his return to action, securing the first major of his career by one shot thanks to a birdie-birdie finish on a dramatic Sunday at Torrey Pines.

With a shortage of time and considering the health protocols in place for the Olympics, a replacement will not be selected. Spain still has one competitor left in the field in Adri Arnaus, the world number 166.

As for DeChambeau, he admitted to being "deeply disappointed" at missing out on Tokyo.

"Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team," he said in a statement released by the PGA Tour.

"I wish Team USA the best of luck next week in Tokyo. I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so."

Patrick Reed will replace him, provided he clears coronavirus tests scheduled on Sunday and Monday before departing for Japan.

 

Bryson DeChambeau described himself as "desperately disappointed" after a positive test for COVID-19 ruled him out of competing in the golf competition at Tokyo 2020.

A statement from the PGA Tour confirmed the 2020 US Open champion failed the final testing protocol before heading out to the Japanese capital to represent Team USA.

In his place comes Patrick Reed, who is undergoing testing on Sunday and Monday before departing for Japan.

Should he clear that hurdle Reed will become a two-time Olympian having also competed at Rio 2016. He joins Justin Thomas, Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele as part of a star-studded USA line-up in the men's event.

"I am deeply disappointed not to be able to compete in the Olympics for Team USA," said DeChambeau.  

"Representing my country means the world to me and it is was a tremendous honour to make this team.

"I wish Team USA the best of luck next week in Tokyo. I will now focus on getting healthy, and I look forward to returning to competition once I am cleared to do so."

Reed added: "I am so excited to have the opportunity to represent our country and be a part of Team USA in Tokyo.

"I wish Bryson nothing but the best, and I know how disappointed he is to not be able to compete, and I will do my best to play my best and represent our country."

Cam Tringale moved into the lead ahead of the final day at the 3M Open in Minnesota after carding a five-under round including an eagle on Saturday.

The American raced up the leaderboard as overnight joint leaders Ryan Armour and Adam Hadwin and slid, with an even round and two-over respectively at TPC Twin Cities.

Tringale's surge was set up after becoming only the third player to reach the par-five 12th in two, sitting at 12 under after 54 holes.

He enjoyed a bogey-free third round, birdieing his first two holes, with only Beau Hossler, who is joint for 12th, bettering his round on Saturday with a six-under-65.

Gary Woodland and Maverick McNealy are joint in second on 11 under after strong third day rounds.

Pat Perez, Cameron Champ, Jimmy Walker and Charl Schwartzel are all 10 under. Champ looms large having carded 10 under from his past 27 holes.

Rickie Fowler appeared set to contend again but carded an eight on the 18th hole to finish six off the lead having found the water.

He was not alone in struggling on the 18th which saw five bogeys, three double bogeys and seven triple bogeys or worse.

Jeongeun Lee6 extended her lead at the top of the Evian Championship leaderboard to five shots heading into the final round of action.

The South Korean had equalled the record for the lowest round ever played at a major by a man or woman in the second round and carded a three-under 68 at the Evian Resort Golf Club on Saturday.

Lee6 is now on the brink of winning a second major title following her 2019 U.S. Women's Open triumph.

She carded three bogeys in round three, but four birdies along with an eagle at the par-four 11th ensured the 25-year-old remains in a commanding position at the summit at 18 under.

"I'm satisfied with my result today because I did miss some shots a little bit, but I got up and down well," Lee6 said.

"At the 2019 U.S. Women's Open I didn't lead going into the final round, but this tournament I'm leading so it's a little bit different. I'm going to be a little bit nervous."

First-round co-leader Yealimi Noh is outright second after birdying her final three holes for a four-under 67 to reach 13 under, while former world number one Lydia Ko is a shot further back.

Minjee Lee birdied her last four holes to card a joint-low 65, along with Brittany Altomare and Maria Fassi, as the Australian moved into a tie for fourth with Ayaka Furue and Pajaree Anannarukarn.

The chasing pack will require a major slip-up from Lee6 to have any chance of lifting the trophy on Sunday, with five strokes the largest deficit ever overturned at the tournament in France.

Adam Hadwin and Ryan Armour have waited a long time for their second PGA Tour wins, and they will enter the weekend with a chance as they sit atop the leaderboard at the 3M Open. 

The Canadian Hadwin and the American Armour each followed opening-round 67s at TPC Twin Cities with six-under-par 65s Friday to sit at 10-under for the tournament as first-round co-leader Rickie Fowler crashed out of the top spot after shooting 73.  

The 45-year-old Armour birdied four of the last eight holes with a bogey mixed in at 13 to claim a share of the lead.

Hadwin, 33, started on the back nine and had a roller-coaster ride through the same stretch of course, taking a bogey at 13 and double bogey at 15 with birdies on 14 and 16 before settling in for a more consistent final nine holes. 

Armour's lone Tour win came at the Sanderson Farms Championship in October 2017, while Hadwin secured his only title to date seven months earlier at the Valspar Championship. 

Fowler entered the day tied with Troy Merritt and Jhonattan Vegas after carding a bogey-free 64 Thursday for his best score of the year, but he managed only one birdie Friday and finished his round tied for 26th at five under overall. 

Merritt also dropped off the pace with a 71, leaving him three back of the leaders, while the Venezuelan Vegas (69) is one stroke back along with Bo Hoag, Chez Reavie and Roger Sloan. 

Louis Oosthuizen is four back of the lead after a second consecutive 68, while former world number one Luke Donald (68) is five back at five under. 

Former Masters champions Sergio Garcia (70), Patrick Reed (70) and Bubba Watson (68) just made the two-under cut.

Among the high-profile players missing the cut were Dustin Johnson (72) and Stewart Cink (73), who were both at even par for the tournament. 

Dylan Frittelli (76) also did not make it to the weekend on the heels of his fifth-place finish at The Open. 

Jeongeun Lee6 enjoyed a remarkable round on day two of the Evian Championship as she recorded a 10-under-61 to equal the record for the lowest round ever played at a major by a man or woman to hold the lead heading into the weekend.

Previously, Lee6's South Korean compatriot Kim Hyo-joo was the sole holder of the record, having shot 61 in Evian seven years ago on her way to claiming a first LPGA Tour title.

Having also enjoyed a fine first round of five under – one off overnight leaders Yealimi Noh and Pajaree Anannaukarn – Lee6's 61 on Friday means her score of 127 over 36 holes is the lowest in majors history, surpassing the 128 Brooks Koepka managed at the 2019 PGA Championship.

Lee6 – who adds a number to her name due to the fact five other Jeongeun Lees were on the LPGA Tour when she started – made a solid start that had her two under by the fourth hole after starting on the 10th, and she made it to the turn at four under for the day.

She then picked up another couple of birdies on holes one and four, but it was the final four where she truly came into her own.

Lee6 rattled off four birdies in succession, including a 16-foot putt on the last hole that remarkably showed no hint of nervousness despite the gravity of the achievement it confirmed.

Even with the historic nature of her feat, Lee was reserved at the end as she said: "I try to keep it on the fairway and keep it on the green and I focused on putting speed. That's it.

"I had a lot of birdie chances. I could play easily. My putting was really, really good, so, yeah, that's it."

Nevertheless, Lee6 is not so far clear that she cannot worry about those chasing her, as Anannarukarn enjoyed another impressive day to sit tied for second with Ariya Jutanugarn on 12 under – the latter's 63 was bettered only by Lee6.

Former Masters runner-up Rickie Fowler is a joint leader alongside Troy Merritt and Jhonattan Vegas after the opening day at the 3M Open at TPC Twin Cities in Minnesota on Thursday.

Fowler had a bogey-free round to card a seven-under 64, which included holing a 29-foot putt for birdie on the first hole.

Merritt stormed home with six birdies for 30 on his back nine after bogeying the ninth hole to share the lead, along with Venezuelan Vegas who shot seven birdies in his round.

"I'm happy about it," Fowler said about his round of 64, which was his best score of the year. "Coming off Sunday at The Open [where he shot 65], a lot of good stuff there, but I drove it a lot better."

Scott Stallings, Adam Schenk and Roger Sloan – who got through 16 before play was suspended due to darkness – are all tied one stroke back after rounds of six under.

Stallings may have held the outright lead but double bogeyed the 18th hole to cap an up-and-down round for the American which included nine birdies, one bogey and the double bogey.

Chez Reavie hit an eagle on the 18th set up by a nice fairway wood, finishing up with a five-under 66 to be joint seventh among a host of players.

After his dramatic top-four finish at The Open, Louis Oosthuizen carded a three-under 68, while Royal St George's fifth-place getter Dylan Frittelli started with a two-under 69.

Former major winners Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are both a stroke back at one under. Johnson hit four birdies and three bogeys, while Garcia landed three birdies in four holes but struggled to find the consistency.

Yealimi Noh showcased her potential as the LPGA-newcomer shot six under par on the opening round of the Evian Championship to hold a share of the lead heading into day two.

The 19-year-old set herself up brilliantly on the very first hole, holing out from some 126 yards for a confidence-boosting eagle.

Noh only officially joined the tour last year and her record at the highest level had been rather up-and-down, having been fined for slow play in a tournament as recently as March, before then finishing tied for third at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational last week.

It was certainly more of the latter that she evoked on Thursday, as she reached the turn at three under – her eagle and two birdies only impacted by a single bogey.

But that five on the par-four fourth hole would be the only time Noh failed to at least make par on the day, as she carded three birdies on the back nine to record a 2021-low of 65.

And she felt that opening eagle gave her a psychological edge after the early bogey.

"I wasn't making a few putts after the turn," Noh said. "After pars, it was bogey, and I was like, 'oh, what the heck, you had an eagle!'

"I think it's the first time I've ever done that. I was just like, what? Like OK. It was really cool."

Nevertheless, Noh is not alone at the top of the leaderboard, as Pajaree Anannarukarn matched her six-under 65, which was the best she had ever managed in a single round at a major.

A group of five are a shot further back, while Sarah Kemp and previous major winners Ariya Jutanugarn and Kim Hyo-joo find themselves on four under, certainly within reach of the top with a positive second round.

However, world number one Nelly Korda is seemingly already out of contention after finishing the day three over par.

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