England’s Georgia Hall came home with five birdies and an eagle to fire a seven-under-par 65 and take the joint lead in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino at Real Club de Golf Guadalmina on Thursday.
The Solheim Cup player had a lack lustre opening nine of level par, containing two birdies and two bogeys, but blitzed the back nine to share the lead with Natalia Escuriola Martinez of Spain and Italian Diana Luna.
“I don’t even know what I was doing on the front nine, to be honest. My head was not there and my golf was not there at all. I did well to make the turn in level par, because I had some horrendous shots in there,” said the 21-year-old from Wimborne, who tied for 10th place in last week’s Evian Championship and is looking for her first win on Tour. “I pulled a couple on the first two or three holes about 15 yards left, which kind of got my head a bit frazzled. On the back nine I thought, right, I’m going to get five birdies here to get to five-under. Then I managed to have a good eagle on the last.
“On the par-5 18th, I hit driver and it makes it a bit easier when you only have 155 yards to the pin. I hit 6-iron to four or five feet and managed to hole it, so that definitely put me in a much better position.”
Escuriola Martinez played steadily with eight birdies and one dropped shot during her round. The 23-year-old from Castellón won the Santander Tour’s Spanish Championship at the Guadalmina course 14 months ago.
After signing for a 65, she said: “Today I felt really good and played easy shots, so I think that was the key. I felt relaxed today and I’m playing in Spain. I love this course because I won a tournament here last year.”
Luna, a five-time winner on tour, had a flawless round with seven birdies. She said afterwards: “I’m very pleased. I had some very good up and downs towards the end of the round and I was getting a little bit tired, so my long game was going a bit downhill.”
Suzann Pettersen, Carlota Ciganda and the 2013 tournament champion Lee-Anne Pace are one back in joint fourth place after rounds of 66.
Pettersen has recovered from the back injury which led to her withdrawing from The Solheim Cup last month. She said:
“I feel pretty good and it’s nice to be back. Last week was the first after a five-week break, so not the easiest of comebacks on a tough course. I played pain free last week and I feel great, so no hesitations and I can kind of do whatever I want, so I’m happy to be back.
“I’ll take six-under any day, but I mean, it’s perfect out here. I had a good group, played fast and you have to try and take advantage of some of the par fives out here. If you hit it good, you’ll have some good looks and I rolled the ball pretty well.”
Ciganda also stands at six-under and said: “My putting was good today and I made eight birdies, with four birdies on the par fives. I like the course and it’s nice to play back in Europe. I have my family and friends here supporting and it’s always nice to play in front of them.
“I was trying to hit fairways and greens and make a few putts. The par-5s are reachable, so if you have a good day with the putter you can make a lot of birdies. There are a few narrow holes where you have to be on the fairway, but today was good. The greens were rolling really well.”
French duo Marion Ricordeau and Celine Herbin share seventh on five-under-par, with joint ninth place occupied by England’s Gabriella Cowley, Valentine Derrey of France and Lydia Hall from Wales.