(Helsinki, Finland – Friday 28th August 2009) – History repeated itself for Beatriz Recari as she held the opening day lead at the Finnair Masters.
The 22-year-old Spaniard led by a stroke on four-under-par after the first round of last year’s tournament, going on to tie for third place, which was her career best finish.
Fast forward 12 months and her love affair with Helsinki Golf Club continued on Friday as she opened with a six-under-par 65, leading by one over Iben Tinning.
Recari, who hails from Pamplona, the city famous for the running of the bulls, was faultless with seven birdies over 17 holes but dropped a shot at the par-four 18th.
“It was probably lack of concentration with the driver. Overall I think I did a great job mental wise on every single shot,” she said. “I’m not going to punish myself for a bogey on the last because six-under is quite good and I have a good feeling for tomorrow.”
Recari birdied the first, sixth and ninth holes going out, followed by the 10th, 14th, 16th and 17th coming back.
Although a shot short of her career low round, she said it felt as if it was her best score ever.
“I love this tournament. I had two weeks off before this tournament and I was visualising it and really looking forward to coming here again; remembering good memories.
“I wrote in my blog that I was looking forward to this week. It was just, not magical, but it was such an enjoyable round. I was enjoying every shot, every hole; it was great,” she continued.
Recari hopes to maintain her position to seal a first victory in four years on the Ladies European Tour, while four-time Solheim Cup player Tinning is targeting a return to the winner’s circle, having not won since 2005, when she captured three titles and was the number one European player.
Sweden’s Johanna Westerberg shared third place with Wales’ Becky Brewerton, South African Lee-Anne Pace and the 17-year-old amateur Je-Yoon Yang from South Korea on four-under 67.
Westerberg, the 31-year-old Swede who captured her maiden tour victory at the Portugal Ladies Open at Golden Eagle Golf Club in Rio Maior in June, is five months pregnant with her first child.
She and fiancé/part-time caddie ATP tennis star Joachim Johansson, known as “Pimpim” are expecting the baby early next year.
She plans to play for as long as possible, at least until the Madrid Ladies Masters in early October and will come back for the start of the 2010 season. She hopes to follow the example of Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, who won the Ricoh Women’s British Open 11 weeks after giving birth to her second daughter.
“I’ve spoken to a few of the girls, Mimi (Hjorth) and Paula (Marti) and they said as long as you feel fine you’re okay and you can start playing,” she said. “We will see how everything goes. I am definitely planning on playing.”
With her 67, Brewerton was able to forget last week’s Solheim Cup disappointment and target a second tournament victory this season, after her win at July’s Spanish Open.
“I’m very happy. I played pretty good. I felt really relaxed and calm and it was nice after the furore of last week,” said Brewerton, who has been taking it easy over the last few days. “I used the pro am as my practise round as I wasn’t going to do too much this week. Literally that’s all I’ve done. I know the course well anyway as we’ve played here quite a few times. I didn’t need to know much more. It was nice to play one round before we started.
“Today is probably the first day I’ve felt normal again. The rest of the week so far I’ve been in a bit of a daze but I’ve had an unbelievably long sleep last night and felt really good this morning. I’ve probably timed it perfectly to be playing well today.”
Also playing well, a shot further back in equal seventh, were England’s Holly Aitchison, Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord, South Korean Jessica Ji, Denmark’s Malene Jorgensen and the 2007 event winner Bettina Hauert from Germany.
Minea Blomqvist, who is defending her home title, shot 69 to finish in a share of 12th place. The cut will be made to the leading 50 players and following the second round on Saturday.