Jan 10, 2019: Charley Hull shot a bogey-free five-under-par 67 on Thursday to take a two-stroke lead at the LET season opener. Defending champion, India’s Aditi Ashok had a rough start in the opening round in the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi.
Aditi shot a lone birdie with three bogeys and a double to start with a four-over-par 76 in the first round lying at T35.
The 22-year-old Hull from Kettering in England rolled in five birdies in hot and breezy conditions to take the clubhouse lead over Dane Nicole Broch Larsen and Luna Sobron from Mallorca.
Hull sank four birdies in her first seven holes and added another at the par-3 sixth, where she holed her putt from four feet.
“I played pretty steady and holed a few putts and then on my back nine, I plodded along. I was hitting good putts, which lipped out, so the highlights were on my front nine”, said Hull.
In the unpredictable winds, Hull said that she was trying to control the amount of spin generated by her new irons.
“The newer irons are not quite where I want them to be. They are spinning loads and I don’t really like it,” she said.
“I’ve changed my set of irons this week and I’m trying them out but they are going a club shorter so I’ll change back to my old ones when I get home. I’ll practise my punch shots and figure out how to keep them low.”
Sobron, who also enjoys the challenge of playing in the wind, carded a course record 10-under-par 62 the last time the event was played at Saadiyat Beach GC, in November 2017.
She was content with a 69, which included four birdies and a bogey. She dropped her only shot on the 16th, but shook it off by making a long 15-metre birdie putt on the 17th, with the flagstick in, a new change under the modernised Rules of Golf.
She said: “On the 17th, I made a birdie, with the flag stick in on the green, a strange new rule, but it was a 15 metre putt. I enjoy playing in the wind and I like to play on Scottish courses, so I feel very comfortable in these conditions. The weather is really good. It’s too cold in Spain now so I prefer to start the season here with a great tournament.”
Broch Larsen was three-over after her first four holes and went out in 39 but turned it around with six birdies to come home in 30.
She said: “I got off to a bad start to say the least. I hit some bad shots and couldn’t find the rhythm. On the back nine, I said, ‘Nicole, try what you’ve been working on the last couple of days,’ and I started to hit some better shots and gained some confidence, so it was a lot more fun. It’s playing tough and you’ve got to hit good shots. I was good at judging the wind on the back nine.”
She said that qualifying for this year’s Solheim Cup is a big goal, but she is trying not to think about it too much as she has come agonising close on the last two occasions and hopes it will be third time lucky this year.