South Korea’s Bo-Mee Lee set the pace at the Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters on Thursday with a flawless opening round of seven under par 65 at RACV Royal Pines Resort in Queensland.
The 23-year-old fired seven birdies to end the day a stroke ahead of Holland’s Christel Boeljon and fellow Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo.
|England’s Felicity Johnson
England’s Felicity Johnson shares fifth place on 67 alongside American Lexi Thompson and Australians Stephanie Na and Nikki Campbell.
Fellow Australians Frances Bondad, Courtney Massey and Sarah Kemp all shot four under 68s to finish the day in a share of ninth position and give the home galleries reason to cheer.
Lee, who was the Korean LPGA player of the Year in 2010 and now plies her trade on the Japanese circuit, said Thursday’s round was one where everything just worked.
“Good driver, good irons, putting was good. It was easy, easy today,” she said.
Ryu shot a bogey free six under 66 and admitted to being nervous at the start of her first tournament for 2012 but said a birdie on her third hole of the day, the 501m par five 12th hole, settled her down.
“I sunk my birdie putt and then I can finally relax,” she said. “I think it was a really great round. It was a really lovely day for me.”
The 2011 US Open champion said her early round nerves was brought on by the pressure to perform.
“A lot of people have really high expectations for me so I am a little bit worried about it,” she said. “I really try hard and I am really training hard but if I hit it bad, a lot of people are disappointed for me.”
The 21-year -old added she was pleasantly surprised at the state of the Royal Pines layout given it has been soaked by relentless rain for the past week: “I can’t believe it because yesterday the course was too wet but today it was a lot better.”
Johnson, who earned her second LET title at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France in October, fired six birdies against one bogey, at the 17th, in a round of 67.
|Australian Stephanie Na
The 24-year-old from Birmingham said: “Everything was good. My game is based on fairways and greens and if I putt well, I’ll score well. I did putt well today but I’ve struggled with my game the last few days, so I went out there with no expectations. I hit the ball well and made a few putts so that was the key to a good score. I’ve played well here before so took some good memories out there today.
“It is a really tough finish now that they have made nine into a long par four; it’s a really tough second shot in there; but I’ve driven the ball great all day and continued to do that over the last few holes so I made it as easy as I could for myself. I hit a small gap wedge into six to six foot and made birdie there. There were a couple of straightforward pars on seven and eight and then nine, I hit it in the greenside bunker and wasn’t looking forward to that shot too much, I’m not going to lie, but I hit it stone dead so it was a great way to finish the round.”
Australian Nikki Campbell was pleased with her opening round of five-under-par 67 after a difficult year on the Japanese Tour in 2011.
“I felt that the second half of last year, I was just going through the motions and not there to compete. I struggled a bit, and I just felt really lonely,” she said.
After a long break from the sticks, Campbell, who finished second at Royal Pines last year, said she was happy with her opening round.
|South Korea's So Yeon Ryu
It was Thompson who won the battle of the teen queens pairing, the 16-year-old professional shading the 14-year-old amateur Lydia Ko, with a five under round of 67 to Ko’s two under 70.
The New Zealand world amateur number one who created history last week by becoming the youngest winner of a professional ALPG tournament, did well to back up after last weeks’ Bing Lee/Samsung Women’s NSW Open victory.
It was a grinding round of five birdies and three bogeys, a five on the final hole, the difficult long par 4 ninth, ending her day on a sour note.
The likeable teenager has stated her aim this week is to just make the cut, a prospect that looks good after her first round which left her in a tie for 22nd.
Australian Kristie Smith, the third player in that grouping struggled around the course with a two over round of 74 and sits in a tie for 97th.
Of the other notables in the field, France’s Gwladys Nocera is in a tie for 12th on three under with Lee-Anne Pace, Sophie Gustafson, Karen Lunn, Christina Kim and five other players, while 2009 Masters champion, Katherine Hull is on two under 70 with 2011 Kraft Nabisco champion, American Stacy Lewis. Three times Masters-winner Laura Davies is a shot further back on one under 71.
The weather is expected to hold for the next three days and with a drier course, expect some even lower scores at the Gold Coast RACV Ladies Masters on Friday and over the weekend.
Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters
RACV Royal Pines Resort (par 72)
2nd February 2012
Scores at the end of round 1 (a- denotes amateur):
65: Bo-Mee Lee (KOR).
66: So Yeon Ryu (KOR), Hee Kyung Seo (KOR), Christel Boeljon (NED).
67: Nikki Campbell (AUS), Felicity Johnson (ENG), Lexi Thompson (USA), Stephanie Na (AUS).
68: Frances Bondad (AUS), Courtney Massey (AUS), Sarah Kemp (AUS).
69: Gwladys Nocera (FRA), Ju Young Park (KOR), Line Vedel (DEN), Sophie Gustafson (SWE), Christina Kim (USA), Pernilla Lindberg (SWE), Wendy Doolan (AUS), Lee-Anne Pace (RSA), Karen Lunn (AUS), Joanna Klatten (FRA).
70: Linda Wessberg (SWE), Bree Arthur (AUS), Katherine Hull (AUS), Stacy Lewis (USA), Danielle Kang (USA), Lynnette Brooky (NZL), Lorie Kane (CAN), Jennifer Song (USA), Jaclyn Sweeney (USA), Heather Bowie Young (USA), Lydia Ko (am, NZL), Stacey Keating (AUS), Sarah-Jane Smith (AUS), Lindsey Wright (AUS), Giulia Sergas (ITA), Dewi Claire Schreefel (NED), Sophie Giquel-Bettan (FRA), Annie Choi (am, KOR).
71: Amelia Lewis (USA), Laura Davies (ENG), Yoshimi Koda (JPN), Rebecca Flood (AUS), Minea Blomqvist (FIN), Maria Hernandez (ESP), Ashley Ona (am, AUS), Victoria Tanco (ARG), Kylie Walker (SCO), Nikki Garrett (AUS), Diana Luna (ITA), Katie Futcher (USA), Caroline Masson (GER), Amanda Blumenherst (USA), Kyeong Eun Bae (KOR), Carlota Ciganda (ESP), Rachel Bailey (AUS), Candie Kung (TWN), Mariajo Uribe (COL), Nontaya Srisawang (THA), Bree Turnbull (AUS), Jessica Shepley (CAN).
72: Irene Cho (USA), Tiffany Joh (USA), Kym Larratt (ENG), Melissa Reid (ENG), Laurette Maritz (RSA), Caroline Hedwall (SWE), Kiran Matharu (ENG), Jennie Lee (USA), Vikki Laing (SCO), Ha-Neul Kim (KOR), Ashleigh Simon (RSA), Titiya Plucksataporn (THA), Marianne Skarpnord (NOR), Becky Morgan (WAL), Becky Brewerton (WAL), Meaghan Francella (USA), Virginie Lagoutte-Clement (FRA), Tamie Durdin (AUS), Clare Queen (SCO).
73: Su-Hyun Oh (am, AUS), Rachel Jennings (ENG), Liz Bennett (ENG), Cathryn Bristow (NZL), Sarah Oh (AUS), Kendall Dye (USA), Connie Chen (RSA), Karine Icher (FRA), Christine Song (USA), Jessica Korda (USA), Ayako Uehara (JPN), Haeji Kang (KOR), Vicky Thomas (AUS), Katelyn Must (AUS), Rebecca Codd (IRE), Samantha Whittle (AUS).
74: Julieta Granada (PRY), Jane Rah (USA), Megumi Kido (JPN), Veronica Zorzi (ITA), Cindy LaCrosse (USA), Kristie Smith (AUS), Danielle Montgomery (AUS), Jessica Speechley (AUS), Alison Walshe (USA), Beth Allen (USA), Karen Pearce (AUS).
75: Jessica Noh (AUS), Kathleen Ekey (USA), Tamara Johns (AUS), Jean Chua (MAL), Julia Boland (AUS), Karen Quinn (AUS), Rebecca Green (AUS).
76: Mianne Bagger (DEN), Hee Young Park (KOR), Nancy Harvey (CAN), Alison Whitaker (AUS), Valentine Derrey (FRA), Corinne Dibnah (AUS), Caroline Bon (NZL), Mo Martin (USA), Cara Freeman (USA).
77: Sara Brown (USA), Joanne Mills (AUS), Jessica Parker (AUS), Sunny Park (AUS), Jacinta Toberty (AUS), Corinne Furnell (AUS).
78: Stephanie Kirchmayr (GER), Cecilie Lundgreen (NOR).
79: Kate Little (AUS), Louise Larsson (SWE), Wendy Dragojlo (AUS), Phillis Meti (NZL).
80: Inhong Lim (AUS), Anna Lim (am, KOR).
81: Jody Fleming (AUS), Lisa Jean (AUS), Belen Mozo (ESP), Corie Hou (AUS).
Elle Sandak, Australia - W/D
Georgina Simpson, England - W/D