Amelia Lewis of the United States shot a four-under-par 68 in hot and breezy conditions at Aloha Golf Club in Marbella on Thursday afternoon to seize a one stroke lead over English duo Florentyna Parker and Rosie Davies in the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino.
Lewis, 25, from Jacksonville, Florida, said that she scrambled for her five birdies on the second, fifth, ninth, 12th and 17th holes, but was pleased to escape with just one three-putt bogey at No. 16.
“I was off the fairway on pretty much all my birdie holes and stuck it close and made the putts,” said Lewis, who made a putt of 10 feet on the second hole. She birdied the long fifth with a tap-in and then holed a curling 30-foot birdie putt on the ninth. On No. 12, she smacked her second shot to two feet using a gap wedge from 108 yards and then sank another birdie putt from 20-feet on 17.
This is her first time playing in Spain since she qualified for the LET at La Manga Club in January 2012 and she and her brother Chris, who is her caddie, are enjoying the experience.
“This location is gorgeous. It’s so beautiful with the water and the people are nice. It’s like a little holiday for my brother and me. We’re just enjoying it. I love Europe in general… I love the tour and the people and have a lot of good friends out here. I just love travelling and seeing new places,” she said.
This is her third straight week in Europe, following the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters in Germany, where she tied for 12th place and the Evian Championship in France, where she was on site as the second alternate.
“I had a good practise session last week at Evian. All week I just practised so I was eager to get out there and play a score,” she said.
Almost a fortnight after finishing 24th in the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters, Parker was keen to make a fast start and commented: “I played quite solidly today and had a lot of birdies, which is good for me and unusual. It felt like at the LEM I was playing well and just couldn’t get the ball in the hole. Today it was good. Six birdies and three bogeys: I’ll take it.”
Parker’s priority is to qualify for the Ladies European Tour team that will take on the LPGA of Japan, Korean LPGA and Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tours at The Queens Presented by Kowa in Japan in December and the two-time Ladies European Tour tournament champion added: “My main goal at the beginning of the season was to qualify for the Queens Cup in Japan. We’ve got two events to qualify for it and it’s still my main goal. So far I’m doing quite well. I’m playing well, I just need to get some good scores going.”
For Davies, who has made two cuts from four starts in this, her rookie year as a professional on the Ladies European Tour, her goals are simple. She said: “I’m really enjoying playing on the Ladies European Tour. I’m excited every time I tee it up and just looking to make the most of the opportunities I get.
“I played pretty well today. I struck the ball well. I took my chances when they came. I left a few shots out there. I had a few short birdie putts which I wanted to make but obviously you can’t make them all. I really stuck to my game plan of hitting it to the widest part of the fairway and attacking the pins. The greens are really slopey and you need to position yourself on the green, so I was hitting it to the right parts of the green and giving myself birdie opportunities.”
She used The Green Book to read the slope of the greens and added: “It is actually the first time I’m using it and it’s been really helpful, especially on these greens. Your eye will tell you one thing but it’s nice to have the confirmation of how it’s going to break, so I found it really, really helpful. I think it speeds up play because you don’t have to look at it from every side and you don’t spend as much time walking around the hole. You can read it from behind, walk to the side, have a look at your book and you’re good.”
Solheim Cup star Azahara Muñoz and amateur Maria Parra are the best placed local players on level par 72. Muñoz was two-under through 11 holes but double bogeyed the 12th after hitting her tee shot left into the water. She said: “You can never complain about level par. Obviously I would have liked to have holed more putts and I was in a little bit of trouble off the tee. I wasn’t hitting the ball well at all yesterday and my irons were pretty good today so I just need to straighten my driver and hopefully make a few more putts.”
Second round play starts at 8.30am on Friday with more sunny skies expected and highs of 28C.