Rebecca Hudson used the experience of playing in the US Women’s Open in North Carolina last week to her advantage as she plotted her way around the tight and tree-lined course at Perugia Golf Club and grabbed the first round lead at the Ladies Italian Open presented by Ruco Line.
Playing in perfect, calm and sunny conditions, the four-time Ladies European Tour winner began with six pars but picked up her first stroke at the par 3 seventh. She then birdied 10, 11, 14 and 16 to take a two stroke lead on five-under-par 67.
“I played very well, had the ball under control and there are some holes out there which you can attack and I did and I played sensibly when I needed to,” said Hudson, who last won on the Ladies European Tour in 2008.
“I’m very pleased as I had no bogeys. I played sensible and I think the US Open last week taught me a lesson in playing sensible. There are some good attacking holes out here so I took my chances and when I needed to be sensible I was. The 18th green, I think I only missed two greens in regulation, I had to run up the bank and it was very ‘a la Pinehurst’ so it was good and I learned a lot last week which I’ve brought forward this week.
“We played near enough the same pin positions the men played and I want to say, they were so difficult, that it taught me to be a lot more precise with my shots and with my distance. It changed the way I practise and made me more focused on what I’m doing. Maybe I got a bit relaxed, I don’t know, but I feel really good this week and today was good and I enjoyed it.
“Every course has its own character and I find it very difficult to compare this to Pinehurst. It has small greens, receptive, tight in places. You have to have good tactics and know when to attack and when not to.”
Fellow US Women’s Open qualifier Amy Boulden of Wales also started well and finished the morning session in a share of second on three-under 69 with four other players: Italian Diana Luna, German Ann-Kathrin Lindner, England’s Florentyna Parker and Danish LET rookie Nicole Broch Larsen.
Boulden said: “I didn’t really play that well last week because I was hitting too much of a draw and on that golf course with those firm greens you couldn’t hold them. I’m swinging a lot better this week and feeling a lot more comfortable.
“I really enjoyed it when I played in yesterday in the practice round. I got off to a bad start today and was three over after four, because I doubled the first, but there are a lot of birdie chances out there and I had seven birdies, so a lot of birdie chances.
“I think the feeling of coming here is a little bit different. I feel a lot more confident coming into this week and I played well in the practice round yesterday, which gave me a lot of confidence. I couldn’t hit a fade last week and this week I’m managing to hit that with my irons.”
Luna, the poster girl for the event, enjoyed the experience of playing in front of a home gallery after a two year hiatus. After making five birdies and two bogeys in a round of 69, she said: “It was a very solid start. I’m pleased with the way I’ve been playing today and looking forward to a nice weekend.”
Broch Larsen, the second ranked rookie on tour behind Sally Watson, took confidence from her tie for 10th at last week’s Slovak Open and she said: “Of course I bring a lot of positive feelings with me this week. I’m really happy with my start. I didn’t think I played that well but I hit a lot of greens and some putts went. You have to be patient and take some 3-woods and 5-woods off the tee.”
Stacy Lee Bregman, Celine Herbin of France and Finnish rookie Krista Bakker all played in the morning and posted rounds of 70, two-under-par.
Playing in scorching temperatures of 28C, those in the mix in the afternoon included top Italian amateur Virginia Carta, Beth Allen, Whitney Hillier, Noora Tamminen and Mireia Prat.