Spanish Solheim Cup star Carlota Ciganda set the target with a four under par 66 on the first morning of the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Golf de Chantaco in St Jean de Luz, Aquitaine.
The 24-year-old from nearby Pamplona, just across the French-Spanish border, made a slow start but recovered with four birdies and an eagle on the long seventh.
“I didn’t start really well with a bogey on number five but then I made two birdies and an eagle,” said Ciganda, who finished second at the recent Tenerife Open de Espana. “That kept me going and then the back nine I made an early birdie on 11 but then I bogeyed the next one. I was putting for birdies on the last few holes and I ended up with a birdie on the last hole.”
On the seventh, after hitting a perfect drive, she played a 5-iron shot to within a metre of the hole from 170 metres. “I was pretty lucky because it bounced on the left side of the green and it bounced to the pin perfectly and was not even a metre away.”
With preferred lies in operation, Australian Nikki Campbell and Anaïs Maggetti of Switzerland also took advantage of the softer greens in the morning to shoot three under par rounds of 67.
Maggetti started well, rolling in birdie putts of six, two and four metres on the second, 10th and 13th holes respectively. Although she dropped a shot on the tricky par-4 17th, she made a seven metre putt on the last to stay on the leader board, with a huge celebration from her caddie, Sheila Lee Gut, who is also her manager.
Maggetti said: “I didn’t hit my driver really well to the fairway but I recovered really well when I was in trouble. My putting was really good so I’m pleased with the round.”
As well as aiming for her first top ten finish in three years on the Ladies European Tour, 142nd ranked Maggetti is effectively fighting to keep her tour card after making two cuts from 10 events this year.
In contrast, Campbell has been one of the most consistent performers on the Ladies European Tour (LET) this year with eight top 10 finishes from 14 starts and is lying in fifth place on the order of merit.
The 34-year-old from Canberra, who spent ten years playing on the LPGA of Japan before joining the LET last year, has twice finished as a runner-up, in Holland and the UK and tied for fifth place a fortnight ago in Tenerife.
After a round containing six birdies and three bogeys, Campbell said: “I left a lot of putts short today but it’s hard to get them to the hole. Uphill they are quite slow and downhill they can get away from you and you can get scared to hit it so you’ve got to be careful with your speed control.”
With a wedding to her former caddie, golf professional Damon Welsford, planned for 1st November, she feels that golf is her second priority, which is helping her to relax on the course. “Life is happening around it. I’m playing and I’m enjoying playing but it’s not everything. My priority is to start a family,” she said, adding that she aims to play in the Australasian events early next season but has not made any plans for tournament golf beyond that.