Australian Rebecca Artis is just three of the lead after the opening round of the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters being played on the Buckinghamshire golf course in England.
Artis fired an impressive six-under-par 66, which included seven birdies and one bogey and is chasing Germany’s Caroline Masson and South African Ashleigh Simon, who both fired a tournament record nine-under to share the lead.
Artis shares third place with Klara Spilkova and Ann-Kathrin Linder, while another Australian Bree Arthur is also in the top 10 in a tie for sixth a further shot back. Fellow compatriot and Rolex World No. 7 Karrie Webb carded a four-under-par opening round to be right in the mix.
Victorian Alison Whitaker is continuing her good recent form and is at three-under and tied for 20th. WA’s Whitney Hillier (70) is tied for 27th, while Nikki Garrett and Sarah Kemp both fired one-under-par rounds to be tied for 40th position.
Kristie Smith and Karen Lunn both shot even par rounds to be in a share of 56th position. Sarah King (74) is tied 91st, while Nikki Campbell (75) and Stephanie Na (76) had a lot of work to do to make the cut.
Masson was also understandably delighted with her flawless round containing nine birdies, which would remind Solheim Cup Captain Liselotte Neumann of her talent just three weeks away from the biennial clash on 16-18 August at Colorado Golf Club.
“I played really well, really solid: hit 17 greens and made one really good save out of the bunker for par. It was solid golf, good putting and when it’s like that, golf is a lot of fun,” said the 24-year-old, from Gladbeck.
An early start in perfect conditions also proved the catalyst for Simon, who had 10 birdies and just one bogey on her card.
The 24-year-old from Johannesburg said: “I managed to birdie the last five holes to finish at nine-under, so I’m very pleased. Last week I finished fifth and played really well; I just made some silly mistakes. This week I knew if I kept hitting the ball like last week, there was a low one in me. I even had a drop today and that was a three-putt, so disappointing, but I stayed in the present and just kept going.”
There are three places available for the top players who are not yet exempt for the Ricoh Women’s British Open via this week’s tournament.