FEELING at home in the windy conditions, Sally Watson made a flying start to her 2015 campaign by grabbing the lead in the Oates Victorian Women’s Open in Australia.
Watson, pipped in the race to be the LET’s Rookie of the Year last season, carded a flawless four-under-par 69 at 13th Beach Links.
It earned her a one-shot lead over Australian Stephanie Na, American Beth Allen and Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord.
“Bogey-free round to start the year – it’s kinda nice,” admitted Edinburgh-born Watson, who is flying the Castle Stuart flag again this year.
“I really didn’t know what to expect because I hadn’t played that golf course before,” she added.
“I just arrived on Monday night from Scotland, played 7.45 pro-am on Tuesday which was a nice little start with like four hours sleep!”
In a rare error-free round on the opening day of ALPG event, the two-times Curtis Cup player birdied the second, seventh, 17th and 18th.
Kylie Walker and Michele Thomson, the two other Scots in the field, opened with rounds of 75 and 76 respectively.
On the European Tour, Stephen Gallacher maintained his good form in the first round of the Maybank Malaysian Open.
Fresh from finishing third in the Dubai Desert Classic, the Ryder Cup player carded a three-under-par 69 at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
He had five birdies to sit just three shots behind the joint-leaders - defending champion Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell.
Playing in the same group as Gallacher, Marc Warren birdied the last three holes for a 70.
After a nightmare last round in Dubai, Scott Jamieson steadied the ship a bit to open with a 73, one fewer than Simon Yates, but former winner Alastair Forsyth faces a fight to make the cut after his 77.
A seven-shot winner in this event last year, Westwood wasted no time showing his intent to hang on to the title as he bagged four birdies in an outward 32 after starting at the tenth.
“I putted very nicely and started the ball on line well,” said the former world No 1. “I left a couple short in the middle when I was fooled by the grain.
“But overall I’m very happy. It’s probably the toughest I’ve ever seen this golf course play.”
Former US Open champion McDowell would have led outright but for missing a five foot chance at the short eighth after a tremendous tee shot.
“I’m pretty happy,” said McDowell. “I hit the ball great today - drove it well and gave myself a lot of looks for birdie.”
SCOTSMAN TABLET AND MOBILE APPS