Photographs courtesy of LET/Tristan Jones
Former world number one Jiyai Shin of South Korea produced eight birdies in an opening round of seven-under-par 65 to claim a two-shot lead in the ActewAGL Canberra Classic at Royal Canberra Golf Club in the Australian capital on Friday morning.
Although she started the round in slight drizzle, Shin shone from her first hole, sinking a birdie putt from eight feet on the par-4 10th just after a trio of kangaroos had bounded across the fairway.
Then, after making a masterful up and down from the back of the 11th green, she birdied the par-4 12th, followed by two-putt birdies on the long 15th and 18th for a back-nine total of four-under-par.
As the temperatures soared to 33C, Shin birdied the first, second, fifth and sixth holes to reach eight-under-par, before dropping a shot at the par-3 seventh, after she uncharacteristically thinned her chip shot.
“I played in the morning and the conditions were beautiful. I really enjoyed it. Tomorrow I’m playing in the afternoon, so I’m looking forward to more birdies,” said the world number 26, who is looking for her 50th professional title in Canberra. “We had a lot of people watching in the galleries for the whole 18 holes. I really enjoyed that.”
Shin won the 2013 Women’s Australian Open at Royal Canberra and she added: “I have great memories at this golf course and I think that Canberra has been very nice to me. I want to stay here! It changed a lot since I last came here five years ago. It’s quite a narrow course and a few holes are quite tight, but it makes you more focused and I like the challenge.”
Last week’s Oates Vic Open champion Minjee Lee of Australia (above) lies in joint second alongside Leticia Ras-Anderica of Germany on five-under-par 67.
After a slow start, Lee said: “I probably didn’t hit it as solid as I wanted to but made some up and downs on the par fives and obviously holed the last putt to have a bit of a surge on the back nine.”
Ras-Anderica (below), whose grandparents live in Canberra, said: “I’m very pleased with my round. It started off a little bit shaky and I made a three-putt on my first hole but then I made an eagle on my first par five, the 15th, which got me back into the game.”
Dame Laura Davies had been two ahead of the field after playing the back nine in six-under-par 30 and made her seventh birdie of the day on the second hole, but then bogeyed the fifth and double-bogeyed the par-3 eighth to sign for a 68, four-under-par.
Davies said: “I putted great and the hole looked like a bucket for the front nine. It couldn’t have been any less really, I holed all my birdie putts, so it was really good, but the front nine just cost me a bit and I don’t really know why. It was just one poor shot.
“If it had pitched in the bunker, it would have been okay, but it pitched on the back of the bunker and shot down the hill and I had an impossible shot and then the third shot was a little bit unlucky. I tried to putt it and it hit a bit of grass and shot up in the air.
“Jiyai’s been playing great, so you could see her shooting a couple of 67s and what’s that, let’s say 17-under, that wouldn’t surprise me. So, if I shot three 68s, I wouldn’t win, so I’ve got to get better.”
European number one Georgia Hall opened with a three-under-par 69 and watched Jiyai’s putting masterclass at close quarters. Hall said: “She simply did nothing wrong the whole time. It has made me think I need to practise my putting, as I thought I was a good putter.
“I holed some good putts, but I made a couple of silly mistakes on two of the par-5s that I should have birdied and I ended up bogeying one of them. I think the greens are completely different to the Pro-Am yesterday, as on the first hole I rolled it past by eight-foot. They are very fast and tricky, so you have to be careful.”
First round play was suspended for approximately 40 minutes from 3.40pm local time due to the threat of thunderstorms in the area, but had resumed by 4.30pm.
For a full list of round 1 scores and round 2 tee-times click here
Children 17 and under are welcome free, tickets are $15 per day or $40 for a 3-day pass and can be purchased at the gate or online by clicking here.
Public parking is available very close to Royal Canberra GC off Banks St, there will be signs to direct you.
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