Diksha Dagar best Indian as Valdis Thora Jonsdottir takes control of NSW Open

Seven birdies and an eagle at the par-5 third hole helped Valdis Thora Jonsdottir a three-stroke advantage in the NSW Open. Diksha Dagar made 72, Amandeep Drall 73 and Astha Madan 74.

Diksha Dagar - LET Image - NSW Open

Ladies European Tour Release – 07 March 2019: 

Valdis Thora Jonsdottir fired a career-low eight-under 63 in round one of the Women’s New South Wales Open presented by Worrells on Thursday to take a three-stroke lead over Astrid Vayson de Pradenne. Diksha Dagar was lying in T33 at one-over 72, riding birdies at the second and tenth holes. Amandeep Drall made 73, with Astha Madan a further stroke adrift in T55.

Tvesa Malik and Vani Kapoor suffered a disappointing start to their week. The former bled nine bogeys including six on the back nine as she posted a 79. Vani had a miserable day – a double bogey at the first hole was compounded by five straight bogeys as she took some heavy punches through the stretch. A sixth bogey at the ninth hole meant that she took a princely 44 strokes for the front nine. The back nine was a much-improved effort, including a birdie at the 17th hole, but she also conceded bogeys at 10 and 14 to eventually sign on an 80.

Valdis Thora Jonsdottir - LET Image - NSW Open
Valdis Thora Jonsdottir – LET Image – NSW Open

Starting from the ninth, the 29-year-old Valdis Jonsdottir from Iceland wasted little time in climbing the leader board at Queanbeyan Golf Club with four birdies in her first five holes.

She bogeyed the 18th, but then quickly recorded a pair of birdies followed by an eagle on the third hole, signing off with another birdie on the par-five seventh.

Jonsdottir, a gold medal winner in the inaugural European Mixed Team Championships at Gleneagles in August, said that she was playing pain-free, but swinging slowly due to a persistent back problem, which has led to her to withdraw from the Jordan Mixed Open next month.

Last week, she was barely able to sit up in bed and she has decided to go home to Akranes next week to see a doctor.

She said: “My back has been hurting a lot the last five weeks, so I have decided this week that I’m going to swing it very slowly. I kept the ball in play and hit a lot of good iron shots into the green and made a lot of good putts.

“Because my back has been bothering me a lot, I’m going to continue to take it easy and go out there with an open mind.”

Vayson De Pradenne, who was due to share accommodation with Jonsdottir in Jordan, also fired a career-best round, of five-under-par 66.

The 2018 Jabra Ladies Open champion, from Chateau-neuf-de-pap in France, was thrilled with her return to form.

She said: “My mind was very focused, my iron play was strong and my course management was wise as well, as I took the wind into consideration. We are playing at altitude so there is an effect there and there are some key holes which look wide but actually have very narrow fairways. My putting was also very good and I’m glad because I had an argument about it with my coach last week.

“He told me that I was not aiming the putter face where I thought I was aiming, which put a shadow over my putting and it was maybe not the right moment to correct it. I had 28 putts today just thinking about some simple things such as how to read the putts and where to aim.

“I was also lucky enough to talk with Gary Player in Abu Dhabi and he told me that the key was to have a mechanical thought over the ball, so I’m now thinking of one thought, which is ‘baby cut,” and it seems to work.”

New South Wales’ Rebecca Artis is the best Australian in a tie for third with Spain’s Carmen Alonso on four-under-par. Artis was pleased with her round, saying that her recent form had been below average.

“I played solid out there today. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me, so I was just trying to do the basics right, hit the fairway, hit the middle of the greens and take opportunities as they come. The putter had been cold the last few weeks, so it was nice to see a few drop today.”

Scotland’s Michele Thomson is a shot back on three-under in joint fifth alongside Manon Gidali from France.

Meanwhile, Whitney Hillier, Felicity Johnson and Munchin Keh, who all played in much colder temperatures in the morning, share seventh with Nina Pegova and Carly Booth on two-under-par. Last year’s champion, Meghan MacLaren, fired a one-under-par 70 to sit in a seven-way tie for 12th place.