Nikki Garrett's driver is behaving and as a result she is only two shots off the lead after the opening round of the Sberbank Golf Masters.
Garrett fired a five-under-par 66 at Golf Park Plzen – Dýšina in the Czech Republic. Her round included six birdies and just one bogey. She hit 85% of fairways and 89% of greens in regulation and had 29 putts.
The Australian is chasing Germany’s Steffi Kirchmayr who posted an opening round of seven-under-par 64 to take a one stroke lead over American Mallroy Fraiche. Garrett is tied for third with four other players, France’s Julie Greciet, Wales’ Amy Boulden, Scot Pamela Pretswell and Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom.
The Central Coast golfer was delighted to be back in the hunt, seven years since her back-to-back wins on the LET in Tenerife and mainland Spain. Having almost quit golf at the end of last year, she returned for the six-week summer swing on the Ladies European Tour and said: “It’s nice. All of the girls out there will know that I’ve struggled with my driver the last few years and I’m hitting it well again and it feels good over it, so it’s a totally different game when you get it in play off the tee. I don’t regret coming out here. When I go home I’ll reassess and see if I come out for the second half of the season.”
The leader, Kirchmayr, carded eight birdies and one bogey on a warm and sunny afternoon at Golf Park Plzen – Dýšina, the same course where finished tied 32nd in the Pilsen Golf Masters on the Ladies European Tour Access Series only two weeks ago.
“It’s a great feeling to shoot seven-under. I don’t really like the set-up of this golf course, because it favours the short hitters and good putters, so I can’t take advantage of my length,” said Kirchmayr, who lost 10 kilos at the beginning of the year through exercise and a healthy diet.
“I only had one bad hole, where I had to chip out of a fairway bunker, but I hit it close and made the putts. My parents came to watch from Germany just for today so I felt I had to shoot a good round for them. They said it was worth driving for three hours to see a 64.”
Seven further players posted rounds of four-under-par 67 to lie in eighth position. ACT’s Nikki Campbell is continuing her solid season, shares 15th place after a three-under-par round of 68. Of the other Australians in the field, Whitney Hillier is tied for 26th at two-under, Maggie Yuan is a further shot back and shares 40th position. Bree Arthur and Kiwi Cathryn Bristow are at even par and tied for 51st.
Unfortunately Alison Whitaker (77) and Adriana Brent (80) have a lot of work to do to make the 36 hole cut in the 54 hole, 250,000 Euro event.