|Klara Spilkova from the Czech Republic
Mikaela Parmlid held pole position on the leader board for most of the first morning at the UNIQA Ladies Golf Open presented by Raiffeisen, but a double bogey on the seventh saw her drop into a share of the lead with Stacey Keating and Klara Spilkova as the morning session was completed in perfect weather at Golfclub Fohrenwaldh in Wiener Neustadt.
The trio ended tied on 68, four under par, one ahead of five further players on three under: Rebecca Artis, Stacy Lee Bregman, Anne-Lise Caudal, Stefania Croce and Trish Johnson.
Spilkova, a 17-year-old school student from Prague, is making her second appearance at the tournament and shared the lead after mixing a bogey on the 18th with five birdies.
“I’m so happy because I played really good and had five birdies but I had one bogey on the last hole and it was a little bit unlucky. I hit good birdies and good putts. It was a very nice day and the weather was nice. I had a really long putt, 20 metre putts two times and everything was great but my irons to the greens was fine. I am pretty happy and I just want to go to eat and sleep to get some good play tomorrow,” Spilkova said.
Keating was level par with three birdies against three bogeys on the back nine but picked up the pace with four birdies on the front nine to get in contention for her first tournament victory on the Ladies European Tour circuit.
“It was very steady and I putted quite nicely today so it always helps the score tick along. I had seven birdies out there today so I did have a couple of drops but that’s golf and I’m very happy. I got off to a good start. I birdied two and three but dropped a few in the middle of my round and then I was one over. I had a good back nine so that always helps,” said the Australian, from Melbourne, who spent the last two weeks practicing at her boyfriend’s English base in Redhill.
Parmlid, the early leader, reached seven under after eight birdies and one drop in her first 12 holes but bogeyed the fifth and then doubled the seventh.
The 31-year-old Swede described how she is feeling her way back into the game having taken the best part of a year and a half out of the game due to the arrival of her first child, Emmy, in July last year.
She is in Austria alone this week which is allowing her to find her focus and she said: “I putted really well: 24 putts, so that was pretty fun. I had a few bad holes but other than that, I played really good. It just seemed like the putts went in. I hit it close and rolled it in.
“I wasn’t feeling too good about my golf swing really on the front nine and I was trying to save it there. I hit a bad shot in the bushes and had to take a drop. I still hit pretty good shots but wasn’t as confident on the front as on the back. I’ll go practise now and I’m still up there so it will be good.”
Local amateur Marlene Krejcy was five over while Austrian Eva Steinberger had a disappointing start with two bogeys on the first two holes and signed for a six over 78, to sit alongside another amateur, Nina Mühl.
Fellow Austrian Stefanie Michl was level after three holes while Nicole Gergely was three over par at halfway.
The defending champion Caroline Hedwall, returning from a hip injury and with her mother Yvonne on the bag, was three under par after nine holes alongside Beth Allen of the United States, who finished second at the recent ISPS Handa Ladies British Masters.
Laura Davies, a triple winner at Golfclub Fohrenwaldh, was two under after nine holes while the 2009 champion Linda Wessberg finished on that number.