Each year the Oates Victorian Open seems to unearth new stars of the game, and this years’ event may prove to be no exception. England’s Georgia Hall has long been touted as a star of the future after a glittering amateur career which included winning two gold medals at the 2013 Youth Olympic Games in Sydney as a 16 year old.
Hall who hails from Bournemouth on England’s south coast, finished with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th holes on the Beach Course to shoot a 4 under par round of 69, and will take a three shot lead into tomorrow’s round where she will play on the Creek Course.
“I love playing in Australia, it’s my favourite place to play” said the 19 year old, “Obviously I have good memories from Sydney and I love links golf so I feel very comfortable here.”
“The Beach course is a hard course and I think the better of the two courses. It was quite windy but obviously being from England I am used to the wind. It was at least three club wind at times but I played really solid golf and didn’t make many mistakes. Hall highlighted her tee shot at the par 3 17th hole as her best of the day. “It was only 142 yards but straight back into the wind, I hit a really good punch 5 iron which I normally hit 175 yards to about 10 feet and made the putt.
Thankfully today I only made two bogeys, one at 12 and another at 15 but to finish with 2 birdies was great and I am really happy with my score.”
Hall, who has just completed her rookie year on the Ladies European Tour is no stranger to playing on the big stage, having played in the 2013 Kraft Nabisco Championship as a 16 year old, and also having been drawn alongside both Karrie Webb and Laura Davies previously at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Though delighted with her start Hall knows that she will have to keep her eye in the rear view mirror this week, “I’d be so happy to keep this going, particularly with so many amazing names like Laura and Karrie playing, but this is a really strong field with most of the top Australian players and also a lot of LET players playing.”
While Hall may not be a household name here in Australia, her hole in one at her professional debut at the 2014 Dubai Ladies Masters created global headlines, many identifying the irony of the fact that she was not old enough at the time to hold a driver’s license. “It was my pro debut and I managed to win a Mercedes but I couldn’t drive at the time, the car was worth £40,000 pounds (roughly $81,000 AUD) so I took the cash that they offered me instead, it was amazing!” Hall laughed.
Hall will take a three shot lead into tomorrow’s second round over a group of 8 players including Australians Rebecca Artis, Grace Lennon, Steph Na, Jessica Speechley and South Australian amateur Kristalle Blum who got into the tournament via Monday’s pre-qualifying round.
It was a disappointing day for both tournament favourite Karrie Webb and former world number 1 Dame Laura Davies who both finished with 4 over par rounds of 77.
Earlier this morning reigning women’s champion Marianne Skarpnord captured her first tournament hole-in-one on the 12th hole on the Beach Course almost a year to the day after her partner Richard Green achieved the same feat.
For completed round 1 scores go to http://alpg.com.au/tournament.php?id=4250&pid=1150&sec=lb
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