England’s Georgia Hall shot a solid six-under-par 67 in warm and breezy conditions to take a one stroke lead after the first round of the SGF67 World Ladies Championship with SBS on Friday at Mission Hills Haikou on Hainan Island.
The 20-year-old from Bournemouth started her first Ladies European Tour event of the 2017 season with a par on the 10th of the Blackstone Course and then made the first of three straight birdies when she holed a bunker shot on the par-3 11th.
Further birdies at the 16th and 18th saw the Solheim Cup prospect complete a back nine of five-under 32 and her stunning round continued when she birdied the third and sixth holes to reach seven-under-par. She made her only bogey on her last hole, the par-4 ninth, after hitting an aggressive approach shot over the green, before leaving a tricky chip 10 feet short and then hitting her first putt too forcefully.
“I played faultless all the way around apart from on the last hole. I think I lost a bit of concentration. I putted amazingly, it was one of the best putting rounds I’ve ever had and I didn’t really do a shot wrong so I’m very happy with my first round,” said Hall, who is aiming for her first title on the LET.
“I wanted to take advantage of my morning round, so I’m happy I did. You’ve really got to place the ball well off the tees and be a good driving player, which is probably the strongest part of my game. I knew if I hit my driver well and holed some good putts, I wouldn’t be too far away.
“I focused on my putting yesterday afternoon and tried to follow through a bit more and it was so much better. I went out this morning and felt so much more confident. I had 25 putts, which is really good for me.”
Hall said that she doesn’t like change and hasn’t touched her swing or seen her coach since November last year, after she posted a career best finish of second in the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi, but she has recently put a new set of Tileist irons into her bag, with lofts which are two degrees stronger and is hitting her irons around three to four yards further than last year.
Hall ended the day with a one-stroke lead over South Korean duo Ye Jin Kim and Hae Rym Kim, who held a share of the lead on six-under-par, before hitting her tee shot into the lake on the par-5 18th hole and making a bogey.
Scotland’s Kylie Henry, who was recently married, shot 69 to share fourth place with South Koreans So Yeon Park, Seon Woo Bae, Jin Joo Hong and Ji Hyun Lee and she also credited an exceptional day on the greens.
Henry, (née Walker), said: “I’m really happy with that because I started on 10 and I was level par for the back nine and then four-under on my last nine holes. It’s a good score. I just putted really solidly today and had 24 putts, which is a record for me.”
Gwladys Nocera from France and Camilla Lennarth of Sweden are part of a group tied for ninth spot on three-under-par alongside six South Korean players in the 54-hole stroke play event which is tri-sanctioned by the LET, CLPGA and KLPGA tours.
There will be a cut to the leading 60 professional players and ties after 36 holes, with live TV and online coverage for the second and third rounds over the weekend.