|Holly Clyburn and Ashleigh Simon played together in the first round|
Holly Clyburn, Ashleigh Simon and Veronica Zorzi lead on seven under par after the first round of the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China.
All three players shot flawless rounds of 65 on tranquil day at the Suzhou Taihu International Golf Club.
Zorzi set the clubhouse lead after playing in mild and overcast conditions early in the morning before Clyburn and Simon played in the same group together later in sunshine.
“It was great the whole day. We fed off each other and when she made one I made one or vice versa,” said 24-year-old Simon, the former Catalonia and Portugal Open champion from South Africa.
After firing seven birdies, including a pair on the last two holes, she said: “Everything seemed on song today and I felt really in rhythm. I tried to keep my tempo the same and I had the same thought on every swing. That’s why I was able to hit a lot of good shots out there.
“There was a little wind out there this afternoon which made us think a little more than we might have had to this morning but overall the course is playing really good and the greens are really receptive so you can hit it straight at the pin.”
Clyburn, who also birdied the last two holes, is the leading rookie on the LET this season and bidding for her second title after winning the Deloitte Ladies Open in Holland in May.
The 22-year-old Englishwoman credited her putting for her best round of the season. “I putted very well today and off the tee I wasn’t great but I fought all the way and from the fairway in I was great and hopefully I can take that into tomorrow,” she said. “My driver was not great but I just kept focused on it off the tee and kept my confidence high and tried as much as possible to get it out of my system. I got away with a lot and I just played well from fairway in really. I had 25 putts. It’s probably the best I’ve putted for a while and it gave me so much confidence.”
Zorzi, known as one of the best ball strikers on tour, has recovered from a mystery injury to her finger last week – believed to have been the result of a broken capillary.
The 33-year-old Italian said: “Seven birdies, no bogeys: a very solid round. I hit 17 greens and 29 putts so happy with my game. Playing conditions were good and we had sunshine so it was better than yesterday. There was a little bit of wind, but not too strong, so the conditions were good.
“I wanted to stay really focused on the present. I said to myself at the start of this tournament, take it shot by shot. I’m very focused on what I want to do. That was my key thought for today.”
Australian Nikki Garrett ended the day a stroke back after firing six birdies in a flawless 66.
Defending champion Carlota Ciganda, who finished seven strokes clear to win last year at the same venue, opened with a five under par 67 to sit alongside Thailand’s Patcharajutar Kongkrapan, Line Vedel of Denmark and promising Chinese amateur Jing Yan.