8am Round-Up: Lydia Ko set for Dundonald Links return

Scottish Open champion Alex Noren opened with a five-under-par 67 in the Wells Fargo Championship to sit joint-second. Picture: Getty Images
Scottish Open champion Alex Noren opened with a five-under-par 67 in the Wells Fargo Championship to sit joint-second. Picture: Getty Images
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World No 1 Lydia Ko has confirmed she’ll be heading to Dundonald Links this summer to make a second appearance in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.

Joining the Kiwi star in Ayrshire on 27-30 July will be world No 3 Ariya Jutanugarn from Thailand, as well as major champions Michelle Wie, Suzann Pettersen and Catriona Matthew.

Ko, who played in the event at the same venue two years ago, will headline a world-class field this time around as the event is staged for the first time through a ground-breaking co-sanctioned agreement between the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA.

The event will carry a $1.5million prize fund, making it the highest prize fund on the LET outside the majors.

“To me, Scotland is the home of golf and I’m excited to return to Dundonald Links to compete against some of the world’s best players,” said Ko.

Referring to the Ricoh Women’s British Open being staged at Kingsbarns in Fife the week after the Ayrshire event, she added: “It is great to have the chance to play two very important links golf tournaments back-to-back.

“I know it has worked well on the men’s schedule and I’m looking forward to seeing how we navigate the course compared to the men.”

Meanwhile, Ko got off to a winning start in the LPGA’s Lorena Ochoa Match Play event in Mexico, beating home player Ana Menendez 3&2.

Other first-day winners included Pettersen, Jutanugarn and Wie.

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Italian Francesco Molinari took route 66 to set the pace in the Wells Fargo Championship as world No 1 Dustin Johnson made an encouraging return from his back injury in the PGA Tour event at Wilmington in North Carolina.

Molinari, whose older brother, Edoardo, recently returned to winning ways on the European Tour, carded a six-under-par opening effort to lead by a shot from four players, including Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open champion Alex Noren.

Molinari signed for eight birdies, including five in seven holes on the front nine, as he outshone Johnson in his first appearance since the American was forced to withdraw from last month’s Masters after slipping on a wooden floor on the eve of the season’s opening major.

In an encouraging return to competitive action, Johnson missed only two greens in blustery conditions at Eagle Point Golf Club as he carded a two-under-par 70 - his 13th consecutive round at par or better.

“Since I hadn’t played in so long, I’m happy with the way I played,” he said. “I didn’t score that great, didn’t really hole that many putts, but other than that, I played really well. I think I hit 16 greens and I hit the ball great.”

Martin Laird, the sole Scot in the field, opened with a one-under-par 71 to sit in a share of 31st spot.

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S.S.P Chawrasia has been named the Hilton European Tour Golfer of the Month for March after his dominant defence of his Hero Indian Open title on home soil.

Chawrasia once again delighted the home fans by storming to victory at DLF Golf and Country Club to continue his remarkable record in his national Open, having been runner up on four occasions before eventually triumphing for the first time in 2016.

In difficult weather conditions, the 38-year-old carded a one under par closing round of 71 to win by an impressive seven stroke margin from Malaysia’s Gavin Green, with Scott Jamieson and Italy’s Matteo Manassero a further shot back.

It was his fourth European Tour title, with all four wins coming on home soil following previous victories in the EMAAR-MGF Indian Masters in 2008 and the Avantha Masters in 2011 before his Hero Indian Open double.

“I am very happy to win the Hilton Golfer of the Month,” said Chawrasia. “To win back-to-back Indian Open’s was very exciting and hopefully there will be more to come.”

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Paul Lawrie shot a level-par 71 in testing conditions over the Kittocks Course at Fairmont St Andrews to win the latest Golf Finance-sponsored event on the Big Johnson’s Tour.

The 1999 Open champion finished a shot ahead of Fifer Peter Whiteford in an event featuring 24 players.

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Ayrshireman Jack McDonald is sitting just outside the top 20 after the opening round of the Alps de Las Castillas, an Alps Tour event at Cabanillas Golf in Guadalajara.

The 2015 Walker Cup player opened with a two-under-par 70 as Dutchman Lars Van Meijel set the pace in the 54-hole event with a 65.

Daniel Young, the other Scot in the field, is sitting joint-80th after signing for a 74.

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Home player Jazz Janewattananond won a play-off to triumph in the MENA Tour’s MahaSamutr Masters at Banyan Golf Club in Hua Hin.

Janewattananond closed with a level-par 72 before making a birdie on the first extra hole to become the first Thai player to win on the third-tier circuit.