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Hudson and Walker share first-round lead in Agadir
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Rebecca Hudson fired six birdies and one bogey on day one in Agadir

England’s Rebecca Hudson and Sophie Walker fired a pair of five-under-par 66s at Golf de l’Ocean in Agadir to share the first round lead at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.

Hudson birdied two of the last three holes to grab the lead on a becalmed morning while Walker teed off and finished in blustery conditions in the afternoon.

Playing in her first tournament of the season, Hudson reproduced the form that led to her winning four titles on the Ladies European Tour, including three in 2008.

“I’m very happy,” said Hudson. “I hit the ball well. I haven’t done as much practice as I would like but I came out and practised here the last few days. I had the ball under control and putted well and that makes a big difference. Hopefully I can keep this going forward.”

Her preparation over the last fortnight included tiling a friend’s bathroom and she added: “It’s great because she’s got a field behind her house so I’ve just been practising my short game. I have been practising but not long game.  I came here and practised my putting. My short game today was very good and I got up and down all but one time.”

Walker hit every fairway and made six birdies and one bogey. She said: “Yesterday I had an afternoon practice round and I thought that would be good preparation because it always gets really windy here. I holed a decent putt on 11 and knocked it really close. Two under after three, you’ve got to take advantage of that.

“It was a couple of clubs wind and on the back nine it was a cross wind a lot. I played well last week but just didn’t putt very well, so the aim this week was to putt better and I did that today. I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and try to keep my percentage of fairways up and my putts low.”

Sophie Walker also had six birdies and one bogey in the first round

Sophie Giquel-Bettan, winner of the Ladies Open de Portugal in 2007, mixed six birdies with two bogeys to sit alone in third on four-under.  

The 31-year-old from Lyon said: “I really enjoyed it. With the jet lag from China it was perfect to play early this morning because I was awake so early. It was pretty good. We had perfect conditions, like 20, 24 degrees and the wind picked up around the 14th hole, but it was good conditions and I did the job and it was fun.”

Giquel-Bettan’s husband and occasional caddie Axel is on the bag for French European Tour rookie Gary Stal who is playing in the Hassan Golf Trophy this week at nearby Golf du Palais Royal.

Ariya Jutanugarn, Jing Yan, Nina Holleder, Charley Hull and Laura Davies share fourth place on three-under-par.

Jutanugarn birdied the first three holes and made the turn in five-under. However an erratic driver cost the 18-year-old a double on the par-four 10th and a triple on the par-four 17th. Despite four additional birdies, she was two-over par on the back nine.

“My putting and irons were good today and helped me a lot but my driver was so bad. I hit like six provisional balls today and had a lost ball and had a seven because of my driver. I couldn’t hit it straight so I had to change my mind and hit three-wood,” said Jutanugarn.

Hull, who finished in joint second place, three strokes behind Jutanugarn, 12 months ago, bogeyed the fourth but had four birdies in a row from the sixth hole.

“It was good and I hit it pretty well, apart from one drive,” Hull said. “I could have been a lot under par, but the putts didn’t go in. I missed a few short putts to begin with but I learned from that and had four birdies on the trot where I should have had six. I could have shot a lot lower.

“It’s a great golf course. It’s quite tight off the tee so you need to be hitting it straight. I woke up this morning and my eye was swollen and I think I must have been bitten at night. I thought I would be was playing with one eye but it wasn’t too bad. I could see more out of my right eye than my left so people at home will probably think, ‘What’s the matter with her eye?’ It’s gone down a bit now though.”

Nobuhle Dlamini, Adriana Brent and Karolin Lampert were the best placed rookies on two-under-par.

Dlamini, the first representative of Swaziland on the LET, was particularly pleased with her first round on tour, given that she is suffering with a bout of flu.

After her round, she commented: “I have to say, I’m chuffed with myself. I had a really good start, I started with a birdie and made a couple more birdies and finished three under on the front nine. It got a bit tougher on the second nine and the wind blew more. I got a couple of bad drives but held it together.”

She admitted to feeling nervous on the first tee, but it didn’t last long. “I took that three-wood and just hoped to get the ball on the fairway. I was really nervous with it being my first professional tournament on the LET. I thought, just get it on the fairway, and I’ll be fine,” she said. “I hit it smack bang in the middle of the fairway and had 68 to the pin. I hit it a metre away and made the birdie putt. The confidence was flowing and I had a nice par five as well. I hit three-wood, lay-up, made a nice par and then I birdied the next par three and I thought, ‘I’m on my way.’”

 

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