Anne-Lise Caudal, Florentyna Parker, Ursula Wikstrom and Christine Wolf fired first rounds of two-under-par 70 on the challenging Gary Player Course at DLF Golf and Country Club in Gurgaon on Friday to take lead at the 10th Hero Women’s Indian Open.
Parker made an excellent start in the early haze with birdies on her first two holes, which were the 10th and 11th. She then birdied the 13th to get to three-under-par but double bogeyed the 14th. After making a birdie on the long 15th followed by a bogey on the 18th, she made the turn in one-under and came back with a matching total of 35.
“I’m really thrilled,” said the Englishwoman, who is currently sixth on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit. “I started really well and was three-under after four, then I lost a ball, which can easily happen. Then I double bogeyed and you’re back to normal again. I made a lot of birdies, which was the difference from my last year here. I putted really well and apart from one hole, I kept the ball in play.”
Wolf bogeyed three of the first four holes but made five birdies from the seventh to the 17th. The Austrian, who represented her country in the recent Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, said: “I’m really satisfied, especially as I started with plus three after four holes. I just started hitting greens and making putts. I left some chances out there, so I know you can score well here. I really like the course and I liked it last year. You know, the greens are a bit tricky, so if the putter works, it helps.”
Later in the afternoon, Caudal, of France joined the duo on two-under-par with a pair of birdies at the 13th and 16th holes, before playing the front nine in level par. She said afterwards: “It’s always good to shoot under par and I think on this golf course it’s even better, so I’m very happy. I stayed focused on every single shot, because it’s a tricky golf course, and kept patient.”
Finland’s Wikstrom, who also played later in the day, double bogeyed the fourth but made birdies at the sixth, eighth, 11th and 15th holes. She said: “Today I started pretty roughly. I was hitting the ball badly in places but my putter was working so I was saving pars and taking my birdie chances, as I only had 27 putts. I think the course has matured from last year, when the greens were firmer, but the course is challenging and the difference between making a birdie or a bogey is minute.”
There are four further players on one-under-par: the current leading LET rookie Nuria Iturrios and Patricia Sanz Barrio from Spain, the defending champion Emily Kristine Pedersen from Denmark and Kiran Matharu from England.
Iturrios, who is in India for the first time, said: “I’m really happy, because I love the course and I think the birdie at the last was really good, because I made a double bogey on 14. The rough is really hard and I made a bad chip but that’s golf. It’s really different from my country but the food I really good I think. It’s a little spicy, but I’m happy to be here. I love the course. It’s really technical and the greens are the most important part. You have to focus on every shot.”
Pedersen played the back nine in one-under and then made a string of pars on the front nine. She said: “I’m really satisfied! My ball striking wasn’t great. It wasn’t as good as in Abu Dhabi and the weeks before but my putting was good and I scrambled really well.”
In a share of ninth place on level par, 18-year-old LET rookie Aditi Ashok from Bangalore is the best placed of the Indian players, one stroke ahead of local player Vani Kapoor.
Meanwhile, Pamela Pretswell, who was two-over-par after 17 holes, did not complete her first round due to darkness and will return to the 18th green to putt out on Saturday morning, but the tee times for round two will remain the same.