Nikki Campbell - Leading in China
LET / Tristan Jones
Canberra’s Nikki Campbell fired a sensational tournament record nine-under-par 63 to lead after the opening round of the Sanya Ladies Open at Yalong Bay Golf Club in China.
A lesson with her coach and her boyfriend caddying for possibly the last time this year seems to have been the catalysts for Campbell’s career low nine-under-par 63.
In the flawless round she posted two birdies on the front nine, before hitting a purple patch on the back nine. Campbell started, birdie-birdie-par, before another four consecutive birdies, another par on the 17th. The 33 year-old headed to the 18th equal with her lowest ever round, she manage to finish her round off in style with another birdie on the par 4 18th.
Campbell sits alone at the top of the leaderboard and holds a one shot lead over China’s Ye Na Chung. Another six players are a further three shots back at five-under; France’s Anne-Lise Caudal, England’s Charley Hull, South African Lee-Anne Pace, Swede Linda Wessberg and China’s amateur Yu Ting Shi and Xi Yu Lin.
After her round Campbell said of her terrific round, “I hit a lot of good iron shots. I had a lot of one or two metre birdie putts and fortunately they all went in. My short iron play was really good so I just had a lot of opportunities.”
When asked if she thought she would knew such a good round was coming, she responded,
“Not at all. This year I haven’t played that good golf but I went home with my coach and worked on a few things. Even on the range this morning I was like, ‘It feels okay, but I’m not sure how it will go.’ I felt comfortable out there and hit a lot of shots close.”
Campbell explained that she recently saw her coach, Gary Barter, who is based on Sydney.
“I live in Canberra so I’ve got to drive for three hours, get a lesson and then drive home. I hadn’t had a lesson since before Morocco so it was nice to refresh what I was trying to do with my swing and have better direction with it.”
“If I’m home I have a lesson once a month but I’ve been in Europe since March so this year I haven’t seen him. It’s something I might look to change next year and go home more frequently because I’m not very good at monitoring it myself.”
Campbell knows how to win, having won on the LPGA of Japan and on the ALPG tour. Another incentive this week is her boyfriend maybe caddying for the last time this year.
“I’m not playing next week and I have to do well this week to play next week so if I do well and can play next week then he’ll caddie one more. He’s going to maybe play himself in Australia. He’s a pro. If things go well he’ll try European Tour.”
It was a good start for the large Australian contingent, Alison Whitaker and Sarah Kemp are part of a large group of players tied for 9th at four-under-par. Kristie Smith is a shot further back and tied for 17th. Former champion Frances Bondad started with two-under-par and shares 34th position, while Stacey Keating is tied for 45th at one-under. Nikki Garrett is right on the projected cut line at even par and tied for 55th.
Unfortunately Bree Arthur (74), Ashlee Dewhurst (75), Stephanie Na (76) and Rebecca Artis (76) sit outside the cut line and have some work to do to make the cut.