Scotland’s Kylie Walker opened with a four-under-par 69 at The International in Amsterdam on Friday to take a two stroke lead after the first round of the Deloitte Ladies Open.
Playing under clear blue skies in temperatures of 20C, the 27-year-old from Glasgow took advantage of the near perfect scoring conditions to reel off six birdies and two bogeys in the late afternoon sunshine, breaking two clear of nine other players.
“I had great conditions to play in. The weather has been pretty perfect all day which has been great, especially compared to last year,” said the Mar Hall player.
“I just played really solid, hit fairways and greens and the right parts of the greens. There were occasions where I hit the wrong part and was left with a horrific first putt, but I only did that once or twice and the rest of the time I was hitting the ball in decent spots and giving myself chances.”
“I hit it on in two on the par-5 third, on eight I was on in two and then on nine I hit it in quite close. 15: par-5, wedged it in close, 16, wedged it in close again. I was driving it well so I was giving myself good chances from the fairway. On 18 I was just off the green in two and two putted so I made my score on the par fives.”
Two behind Walker are fellow Scot Vikki Laing, Russian Maria Balikoeva, England’s Hannah Burke, Moroccan Maha Haddioui, Italian Diana Luna, Frenchwoman Jade Schaeffer, Ainil Bakar of Malaysia and Swedes Julia Davidsson and Anjelika Hammar.
Laing and Balikoeva are both in rich form having tied for fourth at the recent Turkish Airlines Ladies Open.
Balikoeva felt that playing conservatively was the key to her score. “You’ve got to be smart off the tees here; I hit lots of 3-woods and 5-woods off tees and didn’t get into trouble,” she said.
Laing added: “Eight birdies today was pleasing and I hit the ball solidly with my irons and made a few putts. I’m playing well so I’m just trying to keep knocking on the door.”
Schaeffer, a two-time Ladies European Tour champion, felt that her length off the tee was an advantage on the 6371-yard, or 5827-metre set-up.
She said: “I think it’s a good golf course but very tough. We have a lot of longer irons for the second shot. I have a lot of 5-irons, 6-irons and 4-irons sometimes and I think it’s a long course. We don’t play a lot of courses like this, but the greens are very nice, very difficult.”
Playing in her first competitive round on the Ladies European Tour and only two strokes off the lead, LET rookie Hammar was particularly impressed.
She said: “When I came here, I just loved the course. I think it’s so well done and the green keepers, I have never putted on these kind of greens, ever. They are so firm and smooth. The ball goes directly where you aim the putt and the fairways are marvellous. I have my coach here this week, Steven Simpson. We have been working a lot for the last two months on my mental game. I think that is the key to why I feel comfortable when I’m playing. When I make a birdie, I’m in balance, when I make a bogey, I’m in balance.”
Defending champion Holly Clyburn from England posted an even par 73 to end the day in a share of 26th position only four shots off the pace, but Dutch star Christel Boeljon was further back in joint 83rd place after a round of 77, four-over-par.
Amateur Anne Van Dam was the leading Dutch player on one-under-par in a share of 11th place with 14 other players. The 18-year-old’s round was boosted by an eagle on the par-four 11th hole, where she holed her second shot from a fairway bunker.