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

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.

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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.