Germany’s Isi Gabsa and Linda Wessberg of Sweden stormed around Golf Park Pilsen with a pair of five-under-par 66s on Friday to share the first round lead at the Tipsport Golf Masters in the Czech Republic.
Gabsa, 21, from Stuttgart, set out on a morning of heavy rain and swirling winds and posted six birdies and one bogey
After going out in lighter rain in the afternoon, 36-year-old Wessberg from Gothenburg fired six birdies and a bogey on her way in to grab a share of the lead.
They are two strokes clear of five other players: Frenchwomen Anne-Lise Caudal and Anaelle Carnet, Germany’s Olivia Cowan, Australian Stacey Keating and Nanna Koerstz Madsen from Denmark.
This is Gabsa’s first time leading an LET event and she said: “It’s awesome to have such a good round in tough weather. My putting was great and I holed a lot of putts. My driver and irons were pretty good, so to shoot five-under you have to have a good game overall.”
This is Gabsa’s fourth start on the LET in 2016 after she graduated from the LET Access Series following two wins in Scandinavia. As well as a season best tie for 22nd in the RACV Ladies Masters and a share of 28th position in Morocco last month, she has also been playing on the Symetra Tour in the USA where she finished third in the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic in April.
“My season has been good. I played well in Morocco, had a good start in Australia and then I had some good results in the States,” she added.
Wessberg, who won three titles on the LET from 2006-2009 and represented Europe at The 2007 Solheim Cup, was equally thrilled. She said: “It’s my lowest round in a few years, so it’s nice. I hit some really good shots close to the pin and I also made some longer putts. One actually horse shoe-d on the par 3 13th so I made a bogey there but it was pretty solid. In good conditions you can score really low on this course but it was tough today. It was quite windy and raining in the beginning so I was happy.”
Keating, who has mixed six LET events with two Symetra Tour events this year, combined an eagle at the 14th with three birdies and two bogeys.
The double LET champion, who won in Spain and France in 2012, said: “I’m obviously very happy because there were tough conditions out there. At the same time, because it’s been raining, it’s softer and more score-able. An eagle on the card helped, but it’s a reachable par five and there’s a par four that I couldn’t reach in two, so I’ll pretend that was a par five and the other was a par four. It helps that I holed a bomb. I think I hit my driver three times today, so it’s not a long course but you’ve got to get it in position and then do well with your shorter clubs.”
Madsen also had an eagle on 14 along with three birdies and a bogey and she is effectively battling fellow Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen, who opened with a one-over 72, for a place in the Olympic Games this week.
She said: “I’m very pleased with my round. I felt I played really good. There were some putts that didn’t drop but overall I’m really pleased.”
Spanish rookie Nuria Iturrios, who won the recent Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, is part of a large group on two-under-par along with England’s Charlotte Thompson, who was tied for the lead but dropped three shots in her last three holes by ending bogey, double bogey, par.
Iturrios, who is targeting back-to-back wins on the LET, clearly relished playing in the wet conditions and she said: “The weather was like Morocco, so I had a good feeling, because it was like the last round.”
England’s defending champion Hannah Burke (above) had a 72 and local Czech star Klára Spilková returned a 74.