World No.10 Anna Nordqvist fired a five-under-par 66 in the first round of the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open on Thursday to lead by a stroke over five other players at Club de Golf Terramar near Barcelona.
The four-time European Solheim Cup player made six birdies and one bogey on a breezy day in the sea-side town of Sitges.
Nordqvist was in the first group out, starting from the 10th tee at 8am. She said after her round: “I couldn’t feel my hands for the first five holes and I know I grew up in Sweden, but I’ve been in the heat for so long now that I don’t do very well with the cold weather. It was just very cold this morning so the ball wasn’t flying as far and it didn’t seem like it was compressing as it has over the last couple of days. It was playing a good two-club wind on the last hole and you’ve got to adjust to the chillier weather.”
A stroke behind her on four-under-par are Florentyna Parker, Sophie Walker, Giulia Sergas, Jenny Haglund and Gemma Dryburgh, who led after the first round of last week’s Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
Parker fired a bogey-free round with birdies on the third, 10th, 11th and 15th holes. The two-time LET tournament winner was pleased to be back in the hunt after a horror start to the Lalla Meryem Cup, where she was five-over-par after her first seven holes. She said: “I had a disaster last week and after the first seven holes I was already too many over par. I just wanted to get off to a steady start to give myself a chance, and I did exactly that today. It wasn’t easy. This course, without wind, is very scoreable and you can go very low, but with the wind up, it is quite difficult with some long holes into wind. I played very steady.”
Sophie Walker also made a fast start with three birdies on the front nine, followed by another three birdies against two bogeys on the back. She is pleased to be back in Spain with caddie Adam Cook on the bag, after their joint third place finish together at the last year’s Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de España in Marbella. “The wind picked up slightly towards the end, but I had six birdies and two silly bogeys. I putted really well and the greens are really pure,” said Walker.
A further four players sit a stroke further back on three-under-par: Pamela Pretswell, Anne Van Dam, Felicity Johnson and LET rookie Valdis Thora Jonsdottir from Iceland.
Azahara Muñoz, last year’s Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de España winner, from Malaga, is the leading Spanish player in a tie for 11th on two-under-par. She said: “I played really well and hit every fairway and only missed one green. I didn’t make as many putts as I would have liked, but these greens are quite tricky. It gets pretty bouncy and it’s hard to guess the wind, because it was swirling around. You definitely want to be on the right side of the greens because a couple of times I had a 12 or 15-footer, but really downhill and tricky, so the course isn’t as easy as we all thought it was. I thought it was going to be a birdie fest and I don’t think it’s going to be!”
Wind speeds are expected to decrease for the next three days, with a high-pressure system bringing sunshine and fine weather.