|Defending champion Suzann Pettersen
World No.2 Suzann Pettersen of Norway put herself in the perfect position to retain her World Ladies Championship title as she fired a six-under-par 67 on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Resort Haikou in China on Thursday.
After setting out in hot and humid conditions, the two-time major winner, who won the 2013 World Ladies Championship on the Sandbelt Trails Course at the same resort last year, birdied the tenth before picking up further shots on the 12th and 18th holes. She then eagled the par-five second, after hitting her approach to within ten feet of the flag using an eight iron and making the putt.
After dropping a stroke on the third, she recovered with a birdie on the fifth and another on the sixth, which could easily have been another eagle had she not missed a putt from around four feet.
“I played a lot of good golf today and felt like I had a lot of great chances. I feel like you’ve really got to take advantage of the par fives out here,” said Pettersen, who had an eagle and three birdies on the five par fives.
“You only have some mid irons into some of them and I had one eagle, should have had two. I missed a very short eagle putt on six, so overall it was a pretty solid start.”
|Leading amateur Minjee Lee
World No.1 amateur Minjee Lee, who won the Victoria Open 10 days ago on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour and South Korean Ye Na Chung fired a pair of five-under-par 68s to share second a stroke behind Pettersen.
The 17-year-old Lee from Australia – born in Perth to Korean parents - showed that she has the talent to mix with the best as she reeled off seven birdies and two bogeys.
She finished the day one ahead of Trish Johnson, Valentine Derrey and playing partners Gwladys Nocera and Inbee Park, with So Yeon Ryu and Nikki Campbell a stroke further behind in a share of eighth. Xi Yu Lin was the best placed Chinese player on one-under-par in a share of 14th place.
World No.1 Park, the runner-up in the 2013 championship, fired three birdies and an eagle against one bogey. However, she couldn’t catch Lee, who said: “It feels good to be up there but it’s only the first round so anything can happen. I’m in a good position and I don’t feel like I’m out of place. I feel like I can play with the pros and it was pretty cool playing with Inbee.”
Nocera, with 12 wins on the Ladies European Tour, was pleased with her score on the beautiful but challenging volcanic golf course on tropical Hainan. She said: “Anything on top of the leader board is good and I feel really good about shooting that score today on the first round.”
In the team competition for 18 pairs from 17 different countries running concurrently, in which China has two teams, French duo Nocera and Derrey combined for a score of 138 to lead by a stroke over South Koreans Park and Ryu, who are both ranked in the world’s top five.
The World Ladies Championship continues on Friday, with live television coverage over the weekend.
World Ladies Championship
Mission Hills Resort Haikou, Hainan, China
6-9 March 2014
Collated Scores at the end of Round One:
67 - Suzann Pettersen (NOR)
68 - Minjee Lee (AUS) , Ye Na Chung (KOR)
69 - Trish Johnson (ENG) , Inbee Park (KOR) , Gwladys Nocera (FRA) , Valentine Derrey (FRA)
70 - So Yeon Ryu (KOR) , Nikki Campbell (AUS)
71 - Yi Chen Liu (TPE) , Rebecca Artis (AUS) , In Gee Chun (KOR) , Eleanor Givens (ENG)
72 - Camilla Lennarth (SWE) , Hsuan-Ping Chang (TPE) , Louise Larsson (SWE) , Kylie Walker (SCO) , Ha-Na Jang (KOR) , Xi Yu Lin (CHN)
73 - Bo-Mi Suh (KOR) , Jing Yan (CHN) , Stephanie Na (AUS) , Maria Balikoeva (RUS) , Amelia Lewis (USA) , Malene Jorgensen (DEN) , Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) , Pamela Pretswell (SCO) , Celine Herbin (FRA) , Joanna Klatten (FRA)
74 - Yan Hong Pan (CHN) , Kusuma Meechai (THA) , Yu Yang Zhang (CHN) , Stacey Keating (AUS) , Hannah Burke (ENG) , Wichanee Meechai (THA) , Tzu Chi Lin (TPE) , Diana Luna (ITA) , Sarah Kemp (AUS) , Holly Clyburn (ENG) , Viva Schlasberg (SWE) , Nina Holleder (GER) , Sophie Giquel-bettan (FRA) , Shanshan Feng (CHN)
75 - Beth Allen (USA) , Nicole Broch Larsen (DEN) , Mireia Prat (ESP) , Li Qing Chen (CHN) , Caroline Afonso (FRA) , Florentyna Parker (ENG) , Miriam Nagl (GER) , Liz Young (ENG) , Xin Wang (CHN) , Noora Tamminen (FIN)
76 - Pavarisa Yoktuan (THA) , Rong Ji (CHN) , Ajira Nualraksa (THA) , Marianne Skarpnord (NOR) , Jaruporn Palakawong Na Ayutthaya (THA) , Steffi Kirchmayr (GER) , Ling Ling Tan (CHN) , Cuixia Chen (CHN) , Holly Aitchison (ENG) , Chang Yu Qiao (CHN)
77 - Linda Wessberg (SWE) , Cai Zhu Guo (CHN) , Patricia Sanz Barrio (ESP) , Caroline Martens (NOR) , Sophie Walker (ENG) , Felicity Johnson (ENG) , So Young Jang (KOR) , Pei-Yun Chien (TPE) , Jia Yun Li (CHN) , Pan Pan Yan (CHN) , Narisara Kerdrit (THA) , Yu Ting Shi (CHN)
78 - Nontaya Srisawang (THA) , Rungthiwa Pangjan (THA) , Linda Henriksson (FIN) , Sahra Hassan (WAL) , Daniela Holmqvist (SWE) , Hong Tian (CHN) , Vikki Laing (SCO)
79 - Titiya Plucksataporn (THA) , Cathryn Bristow (NZL) , Connie Chen (RSA) , Ziyi Wang (CHN) , Isabella Leung (HKG) , Klara Spilkova (CZE)
80 - Alexandra Vilatte (FRA) , Su-Hyun Oh (AUS) , Becky Brewerton (WAL) , Whitney Hillier (AUS) , Nikki Garrett (AUS) , Juanjuan Tao (CHN)
81 - Tanaporn Kongkiatkrai (THA) , Walailak Satarak (THA) , Cassandra Kirkland (FRA) , Jade Schaeffer (FRA) , Heather Macrae (SCO) , Danielle Montgomery (ENG)
82 - Julianne Alvarez (NZL) , Ann-Kathrin Lindner (GER)
83 - Kai Lin Zhu (CHN) , Daniela Prorokova (CZE)
84 - Alison Whitaker (AUS)
85 - Yue Xia Lu (CHN)
86 - Carly Booth (SCO)
87 - In Ji Bae (KOR)