Virginia Elena Carta
  • Team Kreuzer lead on 17-under-par
  • Five players fired rounds of 67 (-5) to be tied at the top in the Individual standings

Team Kreuzer hold a one-shot lead at the end of the first day of the Aramco Team Series – Jeddah, while five players share the lead in the individual competition.

It was quite the morning for Germany’s Helen Tamy Kreuzer, as she was first reserve heading into day one of the tournament and received a message at 5am this morning to say Becky Brewerton had to withdraw and she would now be playing.

Fast forward a few hours and Kreuzer alongside Italy’s Virginia Elena Carta, Sweden’s Lina Boqvist and Saudi amateur Lujain Khalil sit atop the leaderboard in the team competition on 17-under-par.

Captain Kreuzer said: “I was first reserve this week and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get into the field, and then last night, I got a little heads up that somebody might be pulling out.

“At 5.00 in the morning, they texted me and said you’re in the field and so at 7.14 I was on the tee. Obviously, I’m happy to be playing, but you never want to pull out of a tournament, so I hope Becky is okay.”

The quartet didn’t drop a shot on day one shooting nine-under-par on the front nine and coming home in eight-under-par to put them a shot clear at the top of the leaderboard at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.

Boqvist, who was part of the winning team at the Aramco Team Series – New York in 2021, said: “It was a nice round out there. We made a lot of birdies and a lot of eagles. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Carta added: “It’s much easier to play well when you have a good team and when you are able to enjoy yourself out there. I’m happy that we are doing well as a team as well and happy to be here.”

While the amateur Khalil, who only began playing golf three years ago, was thrilled to be part of the tournament. She explained: “I started golf three years ago in COVID. I never saw myself standing here in three years honestly. I still need to learn to take my time. It’s a lot of hard work. I’m happy to see it pay off. I’m very privileged to be here.

“I have one of the best rounds of my life so far. It was the best team anyone can ask for, and we were having fun but today we focused, playing well and I’m very lucky to say I’m standing with the team that’s in the lead.”

Three teams sit in second place on the leaderboard with Team Ström, Team Garcia and Team Peláez Trivino all on 16-under-par.

Team Wikstrom are one shot further back on 15-under with Team Grechi in sixth place on 14-under and four teams round out the top 10 with Team Then, Team Gustavsson, Team Wolf and Team Alonso all on 13-under-par.

In the Individual competition, five players share the lead at the end of day one with Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom, South Africa’s Nicole Garcia, Italy’s Carta, Spain’s Ana Peláez Trivino and Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson all shooting 67 (-5).

It was an error-free day for both Garcia and Peláez Trivino who rolled in one eagle and three birdies apiece on their way to five-under-par.

Peláez Trivino, who is fifth in the 2022 Race to Costa del Sol, said: “The wind wasn’t blowing that much at the start, and we also teed off 10, which I think that helped. Overall, it was a great round. The wind started to blow on my back nine and it was a bit of a challenge.

“It’s a really tough golf course especially when the wind is up, I think it’s a bigger challenge to end the round bogey-free than making an eagle. I’m proud of both things but I’ll take the bogey-free.

“It’s the end of the season and you want to do well for the rankings, and I got overwhelmed with all of that. I was very excited to come to ATS – Jeddah because I knew it was going to be a different experience and I know that mentally the environment feels different. It’s easier, more chill and we’re having fun. I think that’s what golf is about and it’s a reminder for myself.”

While Gustavsson is back at the venue which kickstarted her 2022 season, as she finished as runner-up here at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International in March and is coming into the week off the back of a Team victory in New York.

She said: “I played all right. I wasn’t great off the tee. My drive wasn’t great, but I putted really well. I holed some nice putts and I’m just going to try and keep that momentum going for tomorrow.

“It was good and solid even though the drive felt like it was close to not being on the course a lot. That’s fine. Some days are like that.

“It was great fun. I had a great time with the team and that’s the thing about these events, you just think about the team score, really, and you just count the birdies for the team and not really for yourself.”

Three players are one shot further back with France’s Lucie Malchirand, Germany’s Chiara Noja and Sweden’s Jessica Karlsson in T6 on four-under-par.

While nine players including four Swedes are in a tie for ninth place on three-under-par and are just two shots off the leaders after 18 holes.

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