England’s Trish Johnson continued her successful relationship with the Fidra Course at Archerfield Links as she stormed to a first-round six-under-par 66 in tough and blustery conditions in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open presented by EventScotland.
Johnson, who has twice finished inside the top five at the venue, with a tie for second in 2010 and share of fourth in 2012, finished three clear of Frenchwoman Anne-Lise Caudal, with three players, including Scots Kylie Walker and Carly Booth, a stroke further behind on two-under-par.
After coming close to withdrawing with a back injury on the eve of the tournament, having felt 80 per cent certain that she would not be able to play, Johnson recovered to the extent that she started with three straight birdies, before adding another at the fifth, but bogeyed then the seventh for an outward half of 33. She made three more birdies on the back nine, at holes 11, 12 and 15, for a matching inward total.
She said: “To be honest I didn’t have huge expectations this week because I haven’t practised for a week and I had a bit of a tough situation with my back but I think that probably helped me in the end because low expectations was better. I started with three birdies, which was nice, rolled a good birdie at the first and a two-putt birdie at the second and a four or five footer at the third, so that was good for the confidence. I knocked it stiff at the fifth so I was four under and I didn’t do an awful lot wrong. I made a bogey on seven, but that was a monstrous hole today, playing straight into the wind. The back nine played really well and I putted really well.
“I picked up an old putter out of the garage that a friend was using, a two-ball putter, so I asked if I could use it and that’s the best I’ve putted in donkey’s years, so let’s hope it continues.”
This is the fifth and final year of the tournament at Archerfield Links, before a move to Dundonald Links in 2015 and Johnson feels this is her last chance to get over the line, having come extremely close in 2010 and 2012. “The first year I was pretty unlucky because the last three holes, the heavens opened and it was straight into the teeth of the wind and I had a two shot lead and bogeyed the last three holes to lose by one.
“Two years ago, I was seven under after 11 holes and I think I had the lead, when Carly won, and I got a flier out of the rough on 14 and made double and then played very poorly coming in. I’d like to think experience holds some hope for me but I wouldn’t count on it. It’s confidence. I like the golf course and I hope I can continue to play well for the next couple of rounds.”
Scottish players have won the last three editions of this tournament: Catriona Matthew in 2011 and 2013 and Carly Booth in 2012 and they are trying to keep the trophy in Scottish hands for a fourth year.
Scots rookie Sally Watson opened with a one-under-par 71 in what she described as ‘horrific’ conditions to join Melissa Reid and Caroline Afonso in a share of sixth place while Matthew opened with a one-over 73 to be seven shots adrift of the lead in a tie for 13th.
In the Pro-Am team for pairs of one professional and one amateur running concurrently, Nikki Campbell and Gavin Corbett were leading on 10-under-par, followed by Carly Booth and Dougray Scott and Caroline Afonso and Mark Sokolowski on eight-under. At seven-under, Johnson and Hansen are tied for fourth with two other teams.
In 2013, Johnson and Hansen won the team competition but Johnson couldn’t understand why Hansen liked playing with her every year. She explained:
“The first year I played with him, the last three holes the heavens opened and I think it actually haled as well so when I came in I was drenched and I’d just given the tournament away, absolutely gutted. Alan won the amateur prize. I went home, and had a phone call from tournament director Andy Lott, saying ‘Slight snag: you’ve signed the card wrong for Alan,’ so he didn’t win, because he’d come out for the prize giving and wondered why his name wasn’t called out.
I sent him an e-mail, and I didn’t get any reply, and when I got here the next year he was loving it because he was taking the mickey out of me relentlessly. He’s a good sport and he realised I didn’t do it on purpose. He’s a perfect person to play with because he’s a good player and he does his own thing, keeps out of the way: he’s fabulous.”
The tournament continues with the second round on Saturday, after which there will be a cut to the leading 50 professionals and those tied. After the cut, the leading 15 teams will also compete in the third round, presenting the exciting prospect of an amateur being in the final group on Sunday.
Collated scores at the end of round 1:
66 - Trish Johnson (ENG)
69 - Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA)
70 - Kylie Walker (SCO) , Carly Booth (SCO) , Nicole Broch Larsen (DEN)
71 - Sally Watson (SCO) , Melissa Reid (ENG) , Caroline Afonso (FRA)
72 - Nikki Campbell (AUS) , Stephanie Na (AUS) , Bree Arthur (AUS) , Sahra Hassan (WAL)
73 - Mireia Prat (ESP) , Catriona Matthew (SCO) , Camilla Lennarth (SWE) , Ann-Kathrin Lindner (GER) , Gwladys Nocera (FRA) , Valentine Derrey (FRA) , Stacy Lee Bregman (RSA) , Rebecca Hudson (ENG) , Marianne Skarpnord (NOR)
74 - Tania Elosegui (ESP) , Sophie Walker (ENG) , Connie Chen (RSA) , Marion Ricordeau (FRA) , Florentyna Parker (ENG) , Hannah Burke (ENG) , Pamela Pretswell (SCO) , Becky Brewerton (WAL) , Beth Allen (USA) , Minea Blomqvist (FIN)
75 - Margherita Rigon (ITA) , Maha Haddioui (MAR) , Jade Schaeffer (FRA) , Kelsey Macdonald (SCO) , Nikki Garrett (AUS) , Josephine Janson (SWE)
76 - Amy Boulden (WAL) , Viva Schlasberg (SWE) , Caroline Martens (NOR) , Holly Clyburn (ENG) , Chloe Leurquin (BEL) , Julie Greciet (FRA) , Alexandra Vilatte (FRA) , Liz Young (ENG) , Sophie Giquel-bettan (FRA)
77 - Vikki Laing (SCO) , Fabienne In-albon (SUI) , Eleanor Givens (ENG) , Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) , Mallory Fraiche (USA) , Sophie Gustafson (SWE) , Rebecca Artis (AUS) , Georgina Simpson (ENG) , Steffi Kirchmayr (GER)
78 - Holly Aitchison (ENG) , Neha Tripathi (IND) , Louise Larsson (SWE) , Rebecca Codd (IRL) , Malene Jorgensen (DEN)
79 - Maria Balikoeva (RUS) , Sophie Sandolo (ITA)
80 - Titiya Plucksataporn (THA) , Cassandra Kirkland (FRA) , Laura Davies (ENG) , Hermione Fitzgerald (SUI)
81 - Lydia Hall (WAL) , Whitney Hillier (AUS) , Heather Macrae (SCO)
82 - Noora Tamminen (FIN) , Pamela Feggans (SCO)
83 - Alison Whitaker (AUS)
Collated team scores:
62 - N. Campbell / G. Corbett (INT)
64 - C. Afonso / M. Sokolowski (INT) , C. Booth / D. Scott (INT)
65 - T. Johnson / A. Hansen (INT) , C. Chen / R. Lawson (INT) , M. Blomqvist / C. Spencer (INT)
66 - A. Caudal / J. Shinton (INT) , M. Haddioui / H. Sayah (INT) , B. Arthur / S. Jordan (INT)
67 - S. Bregman / S. Corrie (INT) , S. Na / P. Corta (INT) , S. Hassan / L. Nicholson (INT) , B. Allen / B. Somsen (INT) , K. Walker / S. Docherty (INT) , S. Giquel-Bettan / A. White (INT)
68 - V. Derry / B. Donald (INT) , K. Macdonald / T . Davidson (INT) , L. Davies / N. Munchetty (INT) , B. Brewerton / N. Henderson (INT) , L. Young / G. Hastings (INT) , M. Prat / I .stent (INT) , S. Watson / R. Slater (INT) , A. Lindner / M. Duck (INT) , N. Tripathi / J. Herd (INT)
69 - A. Vilatte / J. Brown (INT) , G. Nocera / S. Cordier (INT) , M. Reid / L. Muncaster (INT) , F. Parker / K. Abbott (INT) , N. Broch Larsen / D. Brannigan (INT) , C. Lennarth / P. Rose (INT) , N. Dlamini / K. Sharp (INT) , A. Boulden / N. Haywood (INT) , N. Garrett / J. Goven (INT) , H. Clyburn / R. Bevan (INT) , T. Elosegui / K. Sheppard (INT) , J. Schaeffer / M. Naysmith (INT) , S. Kirchmayr / L. Lee (INT)
70 - M. Ricordeau / J. Bunch (INT) , M. Rigon / L. Mckinley (INT) , J. Janson / C. Ellyatt (INT) , M. Skarpnord / D. Watson (INT)
71 - F. In-Albon / C. Guthrie (INT) , R. Hudson / K. Cottingham (INT) , J. Greciet / N. Theakstone (INT) , T. Plucksataporn / A. Orr (INT) , V. Schlasberg / I. Morrison (INT) , H. Macrae / S. Spence (INT) , C. Martens / F. Clark (INT) , H. Aitchison / R. Dick (INT) , C. Leurquin / D. Orr (INT) , R. Artis / K. Anderson (INT) , V. Laing / B. Kane (INT) , C. Matthew / M. Gilbert (INT) , E. Givens / S. Wood (INT) , S. Sandolo / G. Masson (INT) , S. Gustafson / S. Gray (INT)
72 - M. Balikoeva / C. Brown (INT) , P. Pretswell / D. Connon (INT) , C. Kirkland / L. Girouille (INT) , S. Walker / Y. Haywood (INT)
73 - G. Simpson / M. Taylor (INT) , H. Burke / D. Dunnett (INT) , L. Larsson / C. Mather (INT) , R. Codd / S. Clarke (INT) , M. Fraiche / E. Febrer-brown (INT) , H. Fitzgerald / G. Mckill (INT)
74 - N. Tamminen / H. Mccook (INT) , L. Hall / G. Macdonald (INT)
75 - W. Hillier / B. Dunnett (INT) , A. Whitaker / S. Lang (INT)
76 - M. Jorgensen / A. Jack (INT)
79 - P. Feggans / K. Harper (INT)