(Biddenden, England July 9 2004) A glut of low scoring was the order of the day in the first round of the £125,000 Ladies English Open with three players – Scotland’s Julie Forbes, Sweden’s Maria Hjorth and Minea Blomqvist from Finland – equalling the course record to share the lead on six under par around Chart Hills GC in Kent.

Julie Forbes from Scotland

Forbes, who last won on Tour at the 1994 French Open, was delighted to be leading an event again. All six of her birdies came at consecutive holes and the 37-year-old from Aboyne is determined to go forward at the weekend and hopefully snare another victory.

“I’ve been playing steadily all season, but I’ve just had some really silly rounds at times,” explained Forbes.

“But I’m playing freely this week and I’m nice and relaxed. The game is all there and I’m looking to do alright this week. I’d love to win again – it’s just that I need a ten-year-break between victories!”

Hjorth, who admitted that her season was not a good one, returned to Europe after some poor early season form in America. But the former Solheim Cup player found her vintage form and gave herself a huge confidence boost with a 66.

“That was a very pleasant day,” admitted the big hitter from Falun in Sweden.

“It hasn’t been the best of years so far but last season I changed coach as I felt I needed to do something different. I feel my technique is a lot better and I’ve had a few good rounds, too, but I’ve not strung four together yet.

“I was pretty bad off the tee last year, which is one of my strengths normally and only now I’m beginning to find my consistency and to trust my swing again. I’m hoping to keep this going over the weekend and hopefully I can do some more of the same tomorrow and keep attacking and we’ll see how we get on.”

The galleries came in their droves to see both Stupples and England number one Laura Davies and while Davies struggled en route to a 73, Stupples demonstrated some sparkling form on a benign day and treated them fabulous display of power and finesse.

Starting on the back nine, the former Curtis Cup player lobbed in birdies at the 12th, 13th, 16th and 18th to turn in four under par and added two further birdies at the fifth and sixth on the front nine. Only a bogey at the par three 17th spoiled an otherwise perfect return home.

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