Lydia Ko and Suzann Pettersen fired a pair of four under par 68s in ideal conditions to share the first round lead at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open on Friday.
Ko (pictured) opened with a bogey free round containing four birdies on a sunny afternoon at Dundonald Links in North Ayrshire on Scotland’s west coast.
She started from the 10th and picked up a shot at the par-4 13th before adding three more birdies on the fourth, seventh and eighth holes.
“I kind of didn’t know what score to expect because the course is pretty tough, even without the wind,” said world No.2 Ko, 18, from New Zealand.
“You can see by the scores it’s not crazy low, but I think we were lucky with the wind not being as strong as it was the last couple of days.
“Playing over here in the Scottish Open, you can’t use the same game as you can in the States. You’re hitting different shots and I think the key to playing well here is being really creative, because you need to find the shot that will give you a high percentage.”
Playing in the next group in the afternoon draw, Pettersen started with four birdies in her first five holes from the 10th, but found a tricky lie in a bunker on 16 and three putted on the 18th green. She recovered a share of the lead with two more birdies on the third and fifth holes and said:
“I managed my game well, adjusted on a few tee shots according to the wind and gave myself a lot of looks.” The world No.7 from Norway added: “It was pretty straightforward and the course set up is very good, so it’s playable. It’s amazing what a difference the wind makes depending on where it comes from and how strong it is.”
Earlier in the day, Frenchwoman Celine Herbin set the target with a three under par 69, which included five birdies and two bogeys. The 32-year-old, who lives in Santander, Spain and plays at Real Golf de Pedrena, the home course of Seve Ballesteros, said:
“It was a really nice day and a new experience for me as it’s the first time I’ve played the Scottish Open. To play on a links course, I really enjoyed it, because we don’t play on too many links courses.”
A stroke further behind, Kelsey MacDonald led the Scots charge on two under par and she said:
“I was pretty blessed with the weather this morning. It was quite calm for me teeing off. The wind picked up towards the end and you could feel it, especially on 16 which is a pretty tough hole at the back. The pin positions and the greens are the defence, because I only had one flat putt today. It’s being able to read the greens correctly.”
Top ranked Scot Catriona Matthew opened with a two over 74 while fellow Solheim Cup star Charley Hull from England had a four over 76 to lie just inside the projected cut line.
The 2015 Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open occupies a prime spot on the Ladies European Tour calendar, sitting just one week ahead of the Ricoh Women’s British Open and offers an increased prize fund of €500,000.
The event’s unique pro-am format sees 80 amateurs and celebrities tee it up alongside a limited field of 80 of the top female golfers in the world. The 54-hole tournament is played over three days and entry is free all weekend.
Collated scores after round 1:
68 – Lydia Ko (NZL) , Suzann Pettersen (NOR)
69 – Celine Herbin (FRA)
70 – Christine Wolf (AUT) , Kelsey Macdonald (SCO)
71 – Amy Boulden (WAL) , Nicole Garcia (RSA) , Florentyna Parker (ENG) , Laura Davies (ENG)
72 – Connie Chen (RSA) , Hannah Burke (ENG) , Melissa Reid (ENG) , Carly Booth (SCO) , Patricia Sanz Barrio (ESP) , Carin Koch (SWE)
73 – Jade Schaeffer (FRA) , Marianne Skarpnord (NOR) , Malene Jorgensen (DEN) , Fabienne In-albon (SWI) , Gwladys Nocera (FRA) , Holly Clyburn (ENG) , Stacy Lee Bregman (RSA)
74 – Bree Arthur (AUS) , Valentine Derrey (FRA) , Sophie Walker (ENG) , Hannah Ralph (ENG) , Emma Westin (SWE) , Sophie Giquel-bettan (FRA) , Klara Spilkova (CZE) , Catriona Matthew (SCO) , Cheyenne Woods (USA) , Liz Young (ENG) , Leigh Whittaker (GER) , Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) , Emily Kristine Pedersen (DNK) , Chloe Leurquin (BEL) , Caroline Martens (NOR) , Stacey Keating (AUS) , Sally Watson (SCO)
75 – Rebecca Artis (AUS) , Kylie Walker (SCO) , Cathryn Bristow (NZL) , Ssu-Chia Cheng (TPE) , Rebecca Hudson (ENG) , Marion Ricordeau (FRA) , Whitney Hillier (AUS) , Beth Allen (USA) , Stefania Croce (ITA)
76 – Charley Hull (ENG) , Noora Tamminen (FIN) , Sophie Sandolo (ITA) , Maria Balikoeva (RUS) , Ursula Wikstrom (FIN) , Becky Brewerton (WAL)
77 – Alexandra Vilatte (FRA) , Holly Aitchison (ENG) , Anne Van Dam (NLD) , Georgia Hall (ENG) , Nanna Koerstz Madsen (DNK) , Camilla Lennarth (SWE) , Isabelle Boineau (FRA) , Eleanor Givens (ENG) , Margherita Rigon (ITA) , Laura Murray (SCO)
78 – Trish Johnson (ENG) , Nicole Broch Larsen (DEN) , Stephanie Na (AUS) , Lina Boqvist (SWE) , Diana Luna (ITA)
79 – Pamela Pretswell (SCO) , Minea Blomqvist (FIN) , Vikki Laing (SCO)
80 – Maha Haddioui (MAR) , Ann-Kathrin Lindner (GER) , Caroline Afonso (FRA) , Nina Holleder (GER)
81 – Titiya Plucksataporn (THA)
82 – Laurette Maritz (RSA)
83 – Isabella Ramsay (SWE)
85 – Gabriella Cowley (ENG)
Image: Tristan Jones