Carin Koch

Sweden’s Carin Koch and South African Lee-Anne Pace set the target at four under par 68 on a warm and sunny opening morning of the ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters at Buckinghamshire Golf Club in Denham, England, on Thursday.

Pace, the Ladies European Tour’s leading money earner in 2010, had a flawless round containing four birdies at holes two, 11, 14, 18.  

“I played really solid; hit 14 greens and hit them pretty close on some shots. I made no bogeys and four birdies,” said the 31-year-old from Mossel Bay.

Pace enjoyed playing in the swirling breeze but she said: “It definitely changed some of my clubbing out there because you think sometimes it’s into and then it’s helping, but because we are going way out and then coming back and there are so many dog legs it makes it a little bit tricky when the wind is blowing strongly.”

The five-time LET tournament winner is targeting her first title since 2010 after a season-best tie for second in South Africa last month and added: “I’ve been playing quite well I just haven’t pulled it through yet. I’ve been in contention a few times but I’m feeling a lot better about my game than last year. I feel like I’m moving upwards again which is quite nice for my confidence.”

Koch made an astonishing eagle, birdie start and despite dropping shots at 13 and 16, recovered with birdies on 17 and then the first. She bogeyed the sixth but then picked up shots at the seventh and ninth to finish.

She said: “I started off really well, I started off eagle, birdie, and then had some ups and downs after that and managed to make a few good putts to stay in the game and handled the wind okay. I’m happy with it.

“I made some good putts but it’s tough to get close today with the wind and the greens are a little bit more receptive today because of the rain yesterday, so that helped. Otherwise it would have been really, really tough.”