(Porthcawl, August 22 2003) Sara Beautell defied the odds and a stiff sea breeze on the Northern coastline of the Bristol Channel and is the surprise leader on five under par after the first round of the £400,000 Wales WPGA Championship of Europe at Royal Porthcawl GC in South Wales.
The 27-year-old, who hails from the windswept island of Tenerife in the Canaries, found the conditions much to her liking as she was the only player in the field to traverse 18 holes with out dropping a shot, producing five birdies for a 68 in conditions that were at best, very windy and at other times, inhospitable as this venerable links course bared its teeth for the first time in three seasons on the Ladies European Tour.
Beautell leads by a solitary shot from Stephanie Arricau of France, who battled her way to a more than credible 69 as a steady 35mph wind swept away many of the expected challengers and for some, their aspirations of making this years Solheim Cup team by way of automatic qualification.
“I hit 16 greens in regulation, had 29 putts and it was just one of those rare days where everything was perfect,” said Beautell, who sits in 95th place in the order of merit and could use a good finish this week to keep her Tour card.
“I had no bogeys or double bogeys and I’m pretty impressed to be honest and at the last, I hit a three wood to inches for a birdie, the perfect way to end the day.”
Sharing third place on three under par are the English pair of Rachel Bailey and Trish Johnson, a former member here who plotted her way around the course like a chess grandmaster, keeping alive her hopes of an automatic spot on Catrin Nilsmark’s team in three weeks time in Sweden.
Providing some other results go her way, Johnson, in 12th place in the automatic rankings, could play her way into her seventh Solheim contest with a top three finish this week. A win would put it beyond any doubt.