Chatting about her beloved Aberdeen FC between shots helped Michele Thomson set the clubhouse lead in the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de España before heavy rain halted play on the opening day of the LET’s final event of the season at La Quinta.
Thomson posted a three-under-par 68, which was later matched by Dutchwoman Anne Van Dam, as the 30-year-old Scot got off to the start she was looking for after heading into the event needing a good performance to retain her card for next season.
Thomson sits 80th on the money list, which is just inside the cut-off, but three more days of how she played in the first circuit in the £270,000 and she certainly won’t have to worry about paying a visit to the Qualifying School in Morocco next month.
Out in the first match, Thomson followed a birdie from close range at the opening hole by chipping in on the fourth then adding another birdie at the long eighth to make the turn in three-under 33.
Although she double-bogeyed the 14th, the former policewoman recovered well with back-to-back birdies at the next two holes before closing with a brace of pars to round off a good morning’s work in testing conditions.
“I’m just trying to enjoy the week and not really think about the pressure,” admitted Thomson, who picked up two medals – one silver and one bronze – in the inaugural European Golf Team Championships at Gleneagles in August but had been frustrated with her results in three subsequent events.
Referring to the fact she’s managed only one top-20 finish in 11 previous outings on the LET this season, she added: “I know that I’m a better player than how I’ve played this year, so I want to go out and prove to myself that I can do it.”
Caddying for Thomson this week is her older brother, Mark, and, in addition to knowing how the course was playing after having a game there himself two weeks ago, he also helped by instigating the chat about the Dons.
“We are just having a fun week,” declared Thomson. “The course also suits me and it’s a little bit wet out there, so, being from Scotland, I’m used to that!
“I struck my irons really well and the greens were receptive, so I played to the number and holed quite a lot of good putts.
“The greens are really good and really quick, so I’ve been concentrating on that and not getting too greedy.
“The course is playing quite long. It’s getting it into your head that you need to hit more club than you think. It is playing longer and the ground is quite heavy. It’s really wet and putting the ball in position is important. It was disappointing to have a double bogey but other than that I’ve played really well.”
On a day when only half the field of 96 players had completed 18 holes when play was suspended – Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, pictured, and LPGA card holder Gemma Dryburgh had only played four and seven holes respectively – Van Dam was also happy with her day’s work as the 23-year-old from Arnhem bids for a second win of the season on Spanish soil after landing the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open in Sitges, near Barcelona, two months ago.
“I started with a bogey after I hit a poor shot from the middle of the fairway, but after that it was solid, a lot of fairways, greens and birdie chances,” she said. “It’s a tricky golf course. I don’t use my driver that much on this course. It’s all about position and hitting the right spots.”
England’s Liz Young was sharing the lead after nine holes when play was suspended, while European No 1 Georgia Hall and defending champion Azahara Muñoz were both on two-under-par after five holes. Carly Booth finished on one-over, a shot better than Kelsey MacDonald.