Australians Nikki Campbell, Tamara Johns and Sarah Oh share the lead after the opening round of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch being played at the Clearwater Golf Club.
The trio, who were all out in the morning, posted rounds of three-under-par 69 on the challenging layout in cool and windy conditions. They lead by one over local favourite and Rolex World No.1 Amateur Lydia Ko, last year’s runner-up American Alison Walshe and Nontaya Srisawang of Thailand, who played in the afternoon field.
Only 12 players broke par in the 54 hole co-sanctioned event on the John Darby and Sir Bob Charles designed course.
Paraguayan Julieta Granada, Italian Giulia Sergas, England’s Felicity Johnson and Australian Sarah-Jane Smith are all at one-under and share seventh position. Seven players are at even-par.
Campbell is making her first appearance in the Open and posted five birdies and two bogeys in her round. Afterwards she said was pleased with her round given the morning players did not expect to encounter the wind, “I’m happy, played a good round of golf in the wind”.
“It is a good thing to shoot a good score with the winds up. Hopefully tomorrow afternoon it will help me get use to some of the conditions,” Campbell said.
“It is unfortunate that the morning players did not get the advantage of the still conditions but it is the same for everyone and you never know, it might blow tomorrow morning.”
Johns recognised her efforts in the conditions on a testing course.
“Fairways and greens are the key to playing around here,” Johns said. “The conditions were rough. I was surprised that it was so windy so early. When we left the house it was blowing and we were hoping that it would calm down a little. When we turned the corner it was just nasty on the front nine. “
“I am not surprised that the scoring isn’t lower. It is pretty tough out there and it is the sort of course that punishes you if you hit poor shots.
Oh, who is a multiple winner on the ALPG tour, recorded four birdies and just one bogey in her round.
15-year-old Ko is hoping to win her national open and afterwards spoke about her round and the conditions, “I definitely could have played better I think, but the scores aren’t that crazy low today, I think that’s because of the wind.”
“The wind was quite a surprise because we were playing in the morning and expected it to be pretty still.”
“I think it’s a pretty solid score in this wind.”
Other notable scores from round one include 2009 former champion Gwladys Nocera who carded a one-over-par 73 and is tied for 18th position.
The 2010 NZ Open champion Laura Davies shot 74 and is tied 34th, whilst Australian Kristie Smith sits in a tie for 52nd after a 75.
Swede Karin Sjodin was elated with a hole in one on the 146m 16th hole with a 6 iron. Sjodin finished with a 76.
Of the big names who struggled today, Swedes Sophie Gustafson and Anna Nordqvist shot 78 and 79 respectively while the tournament’s top ranked player on the Rolex Women’s Golf Rankings, American Angela Stanford had to settle for a six-over 78.
The cut will be made to the leading 50 professional and ties after the second round.