Pia Babnik leads Helen Holm as Shannon McWilliam has hole in one

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Slovenian youngster Pia Babnik hit the ground running on day one at the 2019 Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open.

A sensational opening round of 66 at Royal Troon gave the youngster a two-shot lead over the rest of the field.

Babnik, who is the highest ranked player in the field, carded nine birdies in total on her way to finishing six-under-par.

She said: “It was really nice to play here today because it wasn’t too windy and it was warm, I just did my best and I am really happy that I played the way I did today. Up until now, I think this is the best weather I have played in, for Scotland it was really special because normally it is windy or raining but today it was nice.”

Babnik is currently vying for a place in the PING Junior Solheim Cup team ahead of the event at Gleneagles in September and with this year’s Helen Holm counting as a qualifying event, Babnik is relishing the opportunity.

She added: “It means a lot to me that I am able to play here, and I really enjoyed it. I didn’t feel much pressure because I feel like I can play good.”

Scotland’s Shannon McWilliam had a hole-in-one at the 142-yard par-3, eighth on her way to carding a two-under-par 70.

McWilliam, from Aboyne, is one of six Scots currently in the top 10 with last week’s Scottish Girls’ Open Champion, Hannah Darling, also two-under-par.

McWilliam said: “The pin was at 142-yards, playing uphill and slightly into the wind, I was trying to hit a 150-yard shot and hit a perfect eight-iron that bounced once and went in. I didn’t actually see it go in, I only knew because of my mum’s reaction.”

Analysing the rest of her round, McWilliam admitted that there is still room for improvement. She added: “It was a very mixed bag out there for me today, two double bogeys, one bogey, five birdies and a hole-in-one. I felt like I could have been a lot lower but I am looking forward to round two.”

The 120-strong field will play another round over Royal Troon Portland on Saturday, before the cut is made for the final 18 holes over Royal Troon Old Course, on Sunday.