Frenchwoman Anne-Lise Caudal grabbed a two stroke lead after a sunny but chilly first round at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open at Archerfield Links in East Lothian on Thursday.
The 27 year old from St Jean de Luz played through a biting afternoon breeze to post an excellent five under par 67 and claim her lead over Australian Sarah Kemp and Hannah Jun, the American who finished second at the venue last year.
Scots Carly Booth and Lynn Kenny, who lost their full playing rights at LET Qualifying School in January, were a stroke further back on two under par with six other players.
Alongside Booth and Kenny, the chasing pack included Italian Diana Luna, Rebecca Codd of Ireland, South African Lee-Anne Pace, England’s Melissa Reid and rookie Tara Davies from North Wales.
Aberdeen Asset Management ambassador Booth, who claimed her maiden victory as a professional at the Dinard Ladies Open on the LET Access Series a fortnight ago, was all smiles, while Kenny was even more delighted as she is taking a forced sabbatical this year.
Most experienced of those in the hunt is unquestionably Solheim Cup player Catriona Matthew, the 2011 event champion, who is looking to add a ninth career title to an already impressive golfing CV.
Local player Matthew, who played in the calmer, morning conditions, was steadiness personified through the front nine before she double bogeyed the par-four ninth hole, but came back in level par with two bogeys and two birdies – including one on the par five 18th – to complete her round of two over 74 under sunny skies.
“I’m disappointed,” Matthew said after her round. “I felt as though I played a lot better than I scored. I just didn’t putt very well and couldn’t get the ball to the hole.
“I kept coming up short and gave myself a lot of chances, especially on the front nine, just lacking a bit of speed. Apart from one bad drive on nine that led to a double, apart from that I really played pretty well.”
Matthew, who posted a course record 65 on Friday last year, felt capable of making a charge on moving day particularly in the event of poor weather.
However, Caudal relishes the testing conditions and said: “I love playing in the wind and I love playing in Scotland; England, Scotland and Ireland. The back nine was windy; it’s nice.”
Caudal won her sole Ladies European Tour title at the Portugal Ladies Open in 2008 but has been a consistent performer ever since, racking up 15 top 10 finishes over the last five years.
With the help of her new caddie, Shane Codd, she notched seven solid birdies and dropped just two shots, at the seventh and 10th holes, on Thursday, crediting her accuracy after hitting 16 greens and putting, with 30 putts.
“My putting was pretty good today. I didn’t hit my driver well; it was pretty short today but I hit some good second shots and everything was pretty good,” Caudal said.
Her compatriot Cassandra Kirkland also enjoyed a fortuitous day on the links with a hole-in-one at the 17th.
The 54-hole tournament continues on Friday when the second round begins at 7.30am.