Germany’s Steffi Kirchmayr fired an opening round of seven-under-par 64 to take a one stroke lead at the Sberbank Golf Masters in the Czech Republic.
The 29-year-old from Nuernberg in Bavaria carded eight birdies and one bogey on a warm and sunny afternoon at Golf Park Plzeň – Dýšina, the same course where finished tied 32nd in the Pilsen Golf Masters on the Ladies European Tour Access Series only two weeks ago.
“It’s a great feeling to shoot seven-under. I don’t really like the set-up of this golf course, because it favours the short hitters and good putters, so I can’t take advantage of my length,” said Kirchmayr, who lost 10 kilos at the beginning of the year through exercise and a healthy diet. “I only had one bad hole, where I had to chip out of a fairway bunker, but I hit it close and made the putts. My parents came to watch from Germany just for today so I felt I had to shoot a good round for them. They said it was worth driving for three hours to see a 64.”
A stroke behind in second place was Mallory Fraiche of the United States, who had six birdies on a bogey-free card. Fraiche, 26, from New Orleans, was joined by her younger sister, Lauren, on caddie duties and she said: “It was very solid and my short game was on point and so it helped save me a lot. This week I knew I needed to practice, so I played the course twice before the tournament, which I also think helped.”
Five further players were two shots off the lead: Julie Greciet, Amy Boulden, Nikki Garrett, Pamela Pretswell and Ursula Wikstrom.
Of those, Welsh LET rookie Boulden is in a rich vein of form having tied for fourth at last week’s Ladies German Open presented by Marriott. She said: “This is my sixth week in a row after the US Women’s Open. It wasn’t supposed to be like that because I got into the Bucks at the last minute and then the Ricoh Women’s British Open. I’m just trying to make the most of each week because I still don’t have my full card. I’m trying to earn enough money to secure my card for next year.”
Australian Garrett was delighted to be back in the hunt, seven years since her back-to-back wins on the LET in Tenerife and mainland Spain.
Having almost quit golf at the end of last year, she returned for the six-week summer swing on the Ladies European Tour and said: “It’s nice. All of the girls out there will know that I’ve struggled with my driver the last few years and I’m hitting it well again and it feels good over it, so it’s a totally different game when you get it in play off the tee. I don’t regret coming out here. When I go home I’ll reassess and see if I come out for the second half of the season.”
Greciet, from France, finished strongly picking up four strokes in her last five holes. She earned her career best finish of second to countrywoman Jade Schaeffer in the Czech Republic in 2011 and said: “I played very well and I had one bogey on nine because my ball was plugged in the bunker and I had no chance, but I had an eagle on 14 and birdie on 15 and 18 so I’m happy because my putting was very good and I took 30 putts and hit 16 greens today.”
Second year professional Pretswell from Scotland was feeling refreshed after taking a week off to be her best friend’s bridesmaid at Loch Lomond. She said: ““I made a really good start when I got up and down for par at the first and made birdie on two and three and kicked on from there.”
Seven further players posted rounds of four-under-par 67 to lie in eighth position.
However, Moroccan Maha Haddioui was disqualified prior to starting her first round due to being nine minutes late on the tee, while England’s Henni Zuel withdrew after nine holes with a wrist injury.