Gemma Dryburgh one off lead after strong start in Australian Ladies Classic

Scotland's Gemma Dryburgh produced a strong start in the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic Bonville as she continued to benefit from a prolonged playing spell in the sunshine.

Gemma Dryburgh, who opened with a five-under-par 67, has been in Australia for the past six weeks
Gemma Dryburgh, who opened with a five-under-par 67, has been in Australia for the past six weeks

Dryburgh, who is in her sixth week in Australia, sits joint-second, one shot behind American Lauren Stephenson, after carding a five-under-par 67 at Bonville Golf Resort in Coffs Harbour.

Starting at the tenth, Dryburgh birdied the 12th, 14th and 16th to turn in 34, before picking up shots at the first, seventh and ninth coming home, the latter two coming after her sole bogey at the par-4 sixth.

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"I played really well," said the Beaconsfield-based Aberdonian of her effort in the opening event of the new Ladies European Tour season. "I played well off the tee and into the greens as well. So everything was pretty good today.

"I was rolling it pretty well with the putter today and hopefully I can keep it going the next few days.

Dryburgh, who is set to split her time this season between the LET and LPGA, added: "This is my third time back in Bonville and I’ve been in Australia for six weeks now, so I’m loving life out here and the heat is much better than the weather at home.

"I'm getting a little tired, to be honest, but hopefully I can power through this week and next week then get a little rest back home."

Stephenson, a second year LPGA player from South Carolina, carded seven birdies to lead from Dryburgh, Finland’s Noora Komulainen, Australian Breanna Gill and Korean trio Min A Woon, Ayean Cho and Hye Ji Lee.

“It was a great day," said the leader. "This course is extremely different to what we played the last two weeks in the Vic and Australian Opens, but this course is amazing.

"It’s nice to play something that’s more familiar to me, because my courses at home have a lot of grain and are similar to this style. I feel at home.”

In her first event since becoming attached to Paul Lawrie Golf Centre, Michele Thomson shot a one-under 71 to sit next best among the Scots in joint-27th.

Laura Murray marked her first LET outing since stepping up from the Access Series with a 72, one better than Kylie Henry, while Kelsey MacDonald and new card holder Alison Muirhead had 74 and 76 respectively.

Meanwhile, Scotland's Jane Turner is on course for a second title triumph on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in South Africa.

She holds a three-shot lead heading into the final round of the South African Women's Masters after a strong opening 36 holes at San Lameer Country Club.

Turner, who won the SuperSport Ladies Challenge on the same circuit just under a year ago, sits on two-under after back-to-back 71s.

She carded five birdies in her second circuit to jump ahead of the overnight leader, home player Cara Gorlei.

Another South African, Kim Williams, shares third spot with Spaniard Maria Beautell on two-over.