Scotland’s Heather MacRae found herself leading a Ladies European Tour event for the first time on day one of the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open on Thursday.
The 30-year-old Gleneagles Hotel player, buoyed by memories of her last visit to National Golf Club with the LET Access Series in November, carded an opening six-under-par 67 to end the day one stroke ahead of Denmark’s Malene Jorgensen and Gwladys Nocera of France.
MacRae played in the morning avoiding the heavy afternoon showers. Jorgensen and Nocera were the best of the afternoon players, with Sweden’s Mikaela Parmlid and Klara Spilkova of the Czech Republic who played in the morning a stroke further behind.
MacRae’s 67 was her best round in 13 starts on the Ladies European Tour and she had previously led after the first round of the Mineks Ladies Classic at the same venue on the LET’s developmental circuit.
“I love the golf course. You have to be a reasonable length off the tee and straight and I did it most of the day so I’m happy,” said MacRae, a winner on LETAS last season in Sweden.
MacRae is hoping that she can make amends for missing out on earning her full LET card last season as she ended in sixth place on the LETAS order of merit, just one stroke outside the top five that automatically qualify.
“It was a bit of a heart breaker because I finished 10th and missed my card by 40 points but the first day I played great and was six under after 12 holes and had a double. I knew I’d hit a lot of good shots here so I think that’s helped coming back,” she said.
MacRae opened with a solid putt for par on 10 and birdied four of the next five holes. She dropped her only stroke at the par-four 17th after pulling her tee shot, but recovered by making a birdie putt of 25 feet at the par-four 18th, playing around a lake.
A pair of birdies on the par-four third and seventh, where she holed putts of six and eight feet respectively, took her ahead of the field but she said: “Hopefully I’ll have learned from the LET Access Series event and it’s one shot at a time. Its only Thursday.”