(Harlech, Wales — Thursday 6th August 2009) — Solheim Cup wild-card Anna Nordqvist fired a six-under-par 66 to seize a one stroke lead on the opening day of the S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe at Harlech.
The 22-year-old Swede carded five birdies and an eagle over the Royal St. David’s links on a spectacular day at the stunning seaside course.
On her first visit to Wales, the Ladies European Tour rookie dropped just one shot at the par-four third hole and picked up two birdies at holes six and eight going out.
She came home in just 30 strokes after birdies at the 11th, 13th and 17th, along with an eagle at the 439-yard par-five 15th, where she knocked in a 30-foot putt.
“I played really well. I really got my putting going today so I am happy with my day,” said the 6’1” blonde Swede, who last week measured herself as an inch taller than Michelle Wie.
Having been given a wild-card by the European Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas on Sunday, Nordqvist is now focused on winning her second professional tournament.
She earned her first pro title, the LPGA Championship, which is a Major, in June, in just her fifth start on the US LPGA Tour. It is hard to believe that she is still only a rookie.
“I’m getting more used to everything as a professional. I think just being around all these great players; being out here week after week, I’m learning things all the time,” she said. “There is more attention, more media. It’s new; it’s a learning experience, but it is part of being a professional athlete. I’m learning a lot. I’m still a rookie and I’ve still a lot to learn.”
Australian Katherine Hull, who won the ANZ Ladies Masters in her home country in February, finished the day in equal second with South African Ashleigh Simon on 67. Hull’s round contained six birdies, to Simon’s seven.
Hull, who received an invitation this week, is considering joining the Ladies European Tour to play in more events. She arrived in Wales on Monday evening and has been seeing the local sights, such as Harlech Castle. “I think we are going to do the steam train this afternoon. I’m having a ball,” she said.
England’s Laura Davies saw the course for the first time on Thursday morning and started impressively, with three birdies in her opening six holes. Three more birdies were countered by two bogeys for a 68 and a seven-way tie for fourth position.
“It’s a great golf course, just a pure links,” said Davies, who will make her 11th appearance as part of the 12-woman strong European Solheim Cup team at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, Illinois, from August 21-23.
“There are some really hard holes into the wind and some easy birdie chances downwind: just a great combination of everything.
“A castle up on the hill: it’s just lovely. Great scenery, great course, good galleries: it’s going to be a great week.”
Also on 68 were Scotland’s Krystle Caithness, a first year tour player, India’s Smriti Mehra, Australian Frances Bondad, South Korean Amy Yang, recent Portugal Open champion Johanna Westerberg of Sweden and England’s Florentyna Parker, who currently leads the Ryder Cup Wales Rookie of the Year race.
Second year tour professional Lydia Hall of Pencoed was the leading Welsh player on 69, followed by Abergele’s Becky Brewerton on 70.
The second round will start at 7.30am on Friday. After 36 holes a cut will be made to the leading 60 professional players and those tied for 60th place.