Iben Tinning on the first tee at National Golf Club
Belek, Antalya, Friday 7th May 2010 – Denmark’s Iben Tinning set a new course record with a stunning round of five-under-par 68 on the first morning at the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.
The former European number one took a one stroke lead over Ireland’s Hazel Kavanagh at National Golf Club in Belek, Antalya.
Starting from the 10th, Tinning began spectacularly with four birdies in her first five holes.
She bogeyed the 16th and birdied the 17th for an outward half of 33, before coming home in 35 and finishing with an impressive birdie on the par-four ninth hole to break the previous course record by two shots.
When the LET first visited National Golf Club in Belek, Antalya, two years ago in 2008, the course was so tough that a record score of 70 was set by four players: Lotta Wahlin, who won the title, Trish Johnson, Becky Brewerton and Yuki Sakurai. However, a comprehensive maintenance programme has been undertaken and now the course is in perfect condition.
“It’s much better. It’s a great track and a great layout and they’ve done a lot for the course. It’s much better than two years ago. It was so firm it was ridiculously hard to play on. I think it’s in much better shape,” Tinning said.
“I’m obviously very pleased. My main goal was to make pars out there and if I could squeeze in a few birdies I would be really happy. My putter was so nice today, which I’m not used to, so I’m pleased with that. I did work hard on the putting so I’m happy it paid off.”
Tinning was the Ladies European Tour’s leading money winner in 2005, after a year when she claimed two of her five victories. Her most recent title was the 2005 Nykredit Masters in Denmark, before the arrival of her son Mads in March 2006.
With her friend Pernilla on caddie duties, Tinning was feeling relaxed on the course. “Pernilla keeps me in a good mood and she’s actually a very good caddie. She doesn’t do yardages but she pulls the trolley and makes me laugh.”
Hazel Kavanagh from Dublin, Ireland, was only one shot off the pace, in outright second. A back nine of 33 containing four birdies secured her score.
“I’m very pleased with today. I just decided to go out and see what happened because I didn’t play well in the Nations Cup, but I found it on the range yesterday evening. I putted well and I drove the ball well so I’m happy,” Kavanagh said. “Just my rhythm has been out the last few weeks so I slowed it down and I feel more confident. I love the course; it’s not about length, it’s just about position so I played for the spots in the practise round and it paid off.”
LET rookie Mallory Blackwelder from Kentucky, USA, finished in a share of third at two-under with Christel Boeljon from the Netherlands and England’s Melissa Reid.
It is Blackwelder’s first time in Turkey and she said: “I love it here. It’s great to be here. I played well today so my goal for the next two days is to keep doing what I’m doing. I would love a top ten or a win here. I think the course sets up great for me and I’m really excited to play the next two days.”
Visiting the ancient amphitheatre at Aspendos after her round, Blackwelder continued: “My first Ladies European Tour event was in Morocco so this is my second LET event. Both were really interesting. I’d never been to Morocco either so starting out with Morocco and Turkey has been really cool for me. I’m getting to see parts of the world that I never would have seen before so I’m really excited to be here.”
Sweden’s Anna Tybring, Becky Brewerton from Wales and Denmark’s KM Juul were the only other players to break par on an overcast morning, turning into a sunny afternoon with a slight breeze.
It was a tough day for Laura Davies, who couldn’t get the putts to drop. She finished at two over par with 12 other players in a tie for 19th place.
Second round play begins at 8am on Saturday, with a cut to the leading 50 players and ties before the final round.