Former winner Catriona Matthew made her presence felt on the leaderboard in the opening round of the ISPS HANDA Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide today.
The 46-year-old carded a five-under-par 67 at The Grange to sit joint-fourth, four shots behind SooBin Kim after the Canadian-based Korean smashed the course record with a flawless nine-birdie salvo.
Matthew, who won this title at Yarra Yarra in 1996, birdied the first, third, fifth, 13th, 15th and 17th holes, with her only dropped shot of the day coming at the par-4 sixth.
“I’m pleased with a good start,” admitted Matthew. “I played well, giving myself a lot of chances.
“I’ve obviously got some good memories from this event, though on a different course. This is the first time the event has been held in Adelaide since Annika [Sorenstam] won in ‘94, which I didn’t play.
“This event always goes to great golf courses and this one is no exception.”
The promising start followed two solid early-season performances by the Scot on the LPGA Tour, having tied 21st in the Bahamas before finishing in a share of 40th in Florida.
Sitting alongside Matthew was five-time champion and home favourite Karrie Webb, who also signed for six birdies.
Falkirk-based Beth Allen is also prominent on the leaderboard, last year’s ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters winner sitting a shot behind Matthew after a round that started with a bogey but then produced four birdies.
Kylie Walker had an eagle-2 at the 11th - her second - as she made a good start, too, with a two-under-par 70 sit sit just outside the top 20.
Kim’s excellent effort, which came in her first tournament round of the year, gave her a three-shot lead over American Casey Grice, with German’s Caroline Masson sitting a shot further back in third.
Kim, a 22-year-old who who is ranked 256th in the world, had just 26 putts for the day and hit 16 of the 18 greens in regulation.
“I was just picking my line and rolling them in,” she said. “My coach (Brian Jung) were joking around and saying ‘let’s make 20 birdies this week’, and I said ‘yeah, I like that idea, let’s keep it rolling’.”
Watched by huge crowds, world No 1 Lydia Ko made a sound start to her title defence with a two-under-par 70.
“I’ll take it,” she said afterwards. “I hit two really loose shots where it was hard to put myself in position the next time, but overall I played pretty solid. “Not many putts dropped but they were dropping today but they were hitting the edges. I think I was putting a good stroke on it and that’s all you can do.”
Stephen Gallacher was the best of the Scots among the morning starters in the Maybank Championship at Royal Selnagor in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.
The 41-year-old posted a three-under-par 68 to sit joint-12th in the clubhouse, where the target had been set by Australian Nathan Holman with a seven-under-par 64.
Gallacher’s card was illuminated by an eagle-3 at the 15th on a day when he also made four birdies.
David Drysdale opened with a level-par 71, two shots better than Marc Warren.
Simon Yates, the fourth Scot in the field, was among the afternoon starters.
The South African equivalent of the Dunhill Links, the Dimension Data Pro-Am, features tartan trio Jamie McLeary, Scott Henry and Bradley Neil as it gets underway at Fancourt today.
In an event played on three courses at the George resort, McLeary will be aiming to back up his first European Tour top-10 finish in the Tshwane Open on Sunday.
“We have been have been working together on simplyfying his swing and in particular his delivery of the club into impact,” said McLeary’s coach, Ian Muir.
“This has made a significant improvement to his driving, which has seen an increase in speed and accuracy which is imperative to be competitive on the European Tour.”
McLeary failed to hang on to his card two years ago but picked up more money for his joint-seventh finish behind Charl Schwartzel in Pretoria on Sunday than he did in the first 19 events then.
“This year is a great oppourtunity for Jamie to establish himself on the European Tour and the stats would back this thought up,” added Fife-based Muir.
“The biggest challenge he faces is being able to calibrate him self to the different environmental conditions he faces as he travels from tournament to tournament.
“For example, the greens in Doha for the recent event there were slow, which didn’t suit his putting style.
“There will obviously be ups and downs during the season but, having been on the European Tour and winning on the Challenge Tour last year will help.
“His mindset is very much about being a competitior and not just a survivor, so fingers crossed for a great season ahead.”
Decisions on a review into Scottish Golf Support Ltd, the Scottish Government-backed initiative to help players with the transition from amateur to professional, will not be made until later this year.
“After the January meeting of Scottish Golf Support Ltd, a number of options were discussed,” said a sportscotland statement issued to The Scotsman in the wake of Challenge Tour card holder Paul Shields being knocked back in his bid to secure backing this season.
“The board requested that the options were worked up in more detail and re-presented to them for a decision in May.”
Scotland claimed a comprehensive victory in the seventh International Triangular against the South African Golf Association’s Junior Team and the South African Golf Development Board at The Wanderers Golf Club.
The eight members of the Scottish Golf national squad rallied to triumph on 16.5 points, while the SA Junior settled for second on 11.5 points.
Greig Hutcheon (Paul Lawrie Golf Centre) finished ninth behind home player and European Tour winner Ricardo Santos in the Algarve Pro Tour’s 54-holer at Palmares in Lagos.
Hutcheon signed off wit a 69 for a 10-under-par total of 206, six shots behind former Madeira Islands Open winner Santos after he closed with a 68 to back up a pair of 66s.
Newmachar’s John Duff chalked up a third victory of the North-East Alliance season with a five-under-par 65 at Spey Bay. He won by a stroke from Fraserburgh amateur Gordon Munro.