A well-performed veteran and two young hopefuls from Australia lead the way after the first round of the $35,000 Anita Boon Pro-Am at the North Shore Golf Club today.
Queensland’s Karen Pearce shot an even par 72 to take a one shot lead into tomorrow’s final round of the 36-hole Pro-Am over compatriots Katelyn Must (pictured) and Adriana Brent.
The tournament, supported by major sponsors KFC and Coca-Cola, is co-sanctioned for the first time with the Australia Ladies Professional Golf (ALPG) Tour and New Zealand Professional Women Golfers (NZPWG). It carries not only a lucrative $35,000 prize purse but also official ALPG Order of Merit status.
Pearce, a former regular on the LPGA Tour, is a winner on the ALPG with three times in the top-10 at the Australian Open.
Starting at the sixth hole, Pearce was two-under at the ninth, but mixed a double bogey and two bogeys with two further birdies in her round on a testing day with strong winds providing a stern challenge.
Pearce, 45, who is also a well performed former tennis professional, will be hoping that a back complaint late in her round does not thwart her attempts for victory tomorrow.
Another who has her fingers crossed for good health tomorrow is Must, who has recently returned to the game after seven months out with injury.
The 23 year old from the Sunshine Coast won last year’s Anita Boon Pro-Am in her professional debut but two freak accidents in the gym resulted in serious shoulder and back injuries.
“I only started playing seven weeks ago and have had two one-day events before this,” Must said. “I was really happy with how I played today. It was really steady all day.
“The back is a little stiff now but hopefully it will loosen up and I can play well again tomorrow.”
Must, who missed two birdies with three dropped shots, fell ill during qualifying for this year’s Ladies European Tour. She is hoping her misfortunes are behind her and a win tomorrow will give her a real boost for the summer.
“I lost my playing rights for the big tournaments on the ALPG this summer so a good performance here would be so important for me going forward.”
She is joined on one-over 73 by 23 year old Adriana Brent, who also had three bogeys and two late birdies in her round. The New South Wales player was a member of the Australian team in last year’s Trans Tasman Cup competition before turning to the paid ranks.
Fellow Australians Tamara Johns and rookie Ashley Ona, in her first professional tournament, share fourth place on two-over 74, a shot ahead of one of the pre-tournament favourites, Vicky Thomas (AUS).
Well-performed Jody Fleming, from Victoria, who made the early pace to be two-under after five holes, had to be content with a four-over 76 to share seventh with the leading New Zealander, young Canterbury player Jess Guenzerodt.
She is two shots clear of a quartet of Kiwis comprising Caroline Bon, Susan Farron, Jenna Hunter and Stacy Tate, who all shot six-over 78.
The event was established in 2009 as the first all women’s pro-am in this country in memory of former New Zealand representative Anita Boon who passed away from ovarian cancer. The tournament, promoted by the New Zealand Professional Women’s Golf, includes a range of female professionals and former Tour players, club professionals and teachers as well as amateurs.
The tournament will also raise funds for NZ Gynaecological Cancer Foundation, which was Boon’s chosen charity.