Whitney Hillier is just one off the lead after the opening round of the Tenerife Open de España Femenino at Golf Costa Adeje in the Canary Islands.
The WA golfer fired a first round of six-under-par 66, which included seven birdies and one bogey and is just one from England’s Trish Johnson who posted a seven-under-par. Johnson credited a red hot putter as she took the first round lead.
The recent Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open champion fired eight birdies and one bogey in hot and sunny conditions to end the day one stroke clear of Hillier, with Scotland’s Kylie Walker and South African Stacy Lee Bregman a stroke further behind.
Hillier has twice led the first round of a Ladies European Tour event this summer, in Italy and Sweden and will be looking to keep the form going throughout this tournament. After completing her round in windier conditions in the afternoon, Hillier said: “I played well today and the only bogey I made was on three and I made birdie straight after that. I was like, ‘Wow! It just clicked.’ Obviously it was windy so it was a bit of a grind and I was hitting punch shots all day and just reading the greens really well. It was just another good day out. I’m slowly learning how to deal with pressure so I hope I can finish a lot stronger and have fun.”
Johnson, the 2010 Tenerife Ladies Open champion at Buenavista Golf Club, fired three birdies on the first, fifth and sixth holes. She dropped a shot on the par-5 eighth but she gave an incredible putting performance with four birdies in a row from the 12th, followed by another birdie on the par-5 18th.
“I can’t really explain it because for the past two weeks I’ve been rubbish and Evian was embarrassing,” said Johnson, who three weeks ago became the LET’s oldest ever winner at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open aged 48.
“I think it’s just a case of when you go to some places you like the greens. Having said that, I did go on the putting green yesterday. I saw something playing at Evian, and I can’t remember who it was, but I remember thinking I like the look of that with the right hand and I just started to practice it and I felt comfortable straight away. I thought, ‘This feels really good,’ and I putted very well today.”
Solheim Cup team mates Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda were among the group of seven players on four under par. Ciganda had a colourful round with a double bogey on the ninth and an eagle on the 13th, with seven birdies and three bogeys on her card while Hull was disappointed after dropping a shot on her 17th hole.
Adriana Brent and Nikki Campbell are the next best placed Australians. Both signed for two-under-par rounds of 70 and share 15th position. Bree Arthur is tied for 43rd position at one-over-par, while Alison Whitaker is at three-over and tied for 69th, along with New Zealand’s Cathryn Bristow. Nikki Garrett shares 101st position at five-over.