Christel Boeljon and Lisa Hall opened with a pair of four under par 68s to grab the early lead on the opening day of the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open at Gray Bear Golf Club in Tále.
Both players mixed five birdies with a bogey on a clear and sunny morning in the Low Tatras mountain range, near Brezno.
Boeljon and Hall agreed that the key to their score was hitting the ball close on the extremely hilly greens.
“You really want to place the ball on the greens. If you can do that then you can shoot a low score and so far it’s working,” said Boeljon, who claimed her first title at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open three weeks ago.
“I think there’s a lot of slope to the greens so it helps if you hit it close. If you have a lot of long putts you’ll be struggling to get down in two,” Hall said.
“I think overall I was able to hit some shots close for the birdies and the other shots I was close enough where I didn’t have to go over the mountains too much.”
Hall’s preparation was a little different to Boeljon’s and she explained: “I played in Germany last week and missed the cut and that was the first tournament I’d played in all year. I was looking forward to playing and seeing what would happen.”
She added that she had been busy helping her husband, teaching professional Martin Hall, at their home in West Palm Beach, Florida, with a little coaching at the Ibis Country Club.
“He’s got some things going on in his career, his own show on the Golf Channel now, and it’s just harder. Priorities change and it’s harder to be away.”
Beth Allen and Malene Jorgensen finished a shot behind the leaders, with three under par 69s.
Jorgensen, who started the season strongly, had an eagle at the par-five fourth hole, where she hit a four-iron approach shot to half a metre from 158 metres away. Allen, who donated her kidney to her brother in March, finished with four birdies in a row.
Slovakia’s leading player Zuzana Kamasova, who claimed her maiden title at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco two months ago, opened with a level par round of 72 on her home course.
She said: “There is always pressure playing at home but you have the fans on your side and you know the course. On the other side there is a little bit of pressure so I think it balances out.
“I actually felt the pressure right away. I even, my tee shot, I hit it a little long left so I felt the pressure but I think I loosened up after a few holes. A few holes were shaky but then it was good.
“I feel fairly positive. There were a couple of greens I made mistakes on but other than that, I kept it in play and tried to take my chances and a few putts fell in so I was very happy.”
The top ranked English pair of Laura Davies and Melissa Reid both opened with two over par 74s, Davies rueing her missed chances on the greens, which were a little slow for her liking.
Meanwhile the 2010 champion Maria Hernandez opened with a four over 76 and said: “Today wasn’t a good day. I never got the speed on the greens. The putting didn’t really work for the entire round. I hit the ball okay, not too bad, but just couldn’t make a putt at all for the entire 18 holes. Tomorrow’s another day so I’m hoping for good things.”
English amateur Lauren Taylor, from Rugby, Warwickshire, had an eagle on the par-five fourth hole and then another eagle at the next when she aced the par-three fifth using a 4-iron. The 16-year-old from Woburn Golf Club qualified for the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open two weeks ago, after travelling out to Gray Bear Golf Club for a practice round and for the two-day qualifier. She is really excited to be playing with the top golfers in Europe.