Nikita Arjun and Anika Varma make a bright start as Mina Harigae takes the lead

Mina Harigae took a birdie at each of the par-5 holes at the Orange Tree Golf Club to secure a one-stroke advantage over Emilee Hoffman

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10 June 2020: Arizona continues to provide succour amidst an unprecedented lockdown that has shut normal life around the world. The Cactus Tour is playing its 21st event this week. Mina Harigae, back to back winner in the 17th and 18th legs took charge with an opening round 67 at the Orange Tree in Scottsdale. Nikita Arjun and  Anika Varma were lying in T6 after making 73 on their trek around the Orange Tree Golf Club.

Nikita Arjun - Image from player's FB page
Nikita Arjun – Image from player’s FB page

Emilee Hoffman was just one shot off the pace, making a fine 68 on Tuesday. Amateurs Meghan Royal and Katherine Muzi were lying T3 with a 69 to their names. Only four women broke par on a warm windswept day in Arizona. Madeleine Laux was lying fifth with an even 72 in the first round of the event.

Harigae, the winner at Longbow and Desert Canyon, took advantage of the par-5s. She made birdie on each of the four holes, two on the front nine and two more on the return stretch, playing some immaculately controlled golf. She made the turn at three under before conceding her only bogey of the round at the par-4 10th hole. But she also made three birdies on the return stretch, just as many as she acquired on the way out to secure the leading score for the round.

At par-4, 350 yards first hole, Arjun made a rousing start with a birdie straight out of the blocks. But she conceded a bogey on the third hole to concede the advantage almost immediately. After another birdie at the par-5 6th hole, Arjun gave away three straight bogeys to turn in 38.

Another bogey at the 359 yards par-4 eleventh hole threatened to wreck her round, but Arjun showed strength to secure birdies at both the par-5 holes on the way in to produce a 73.

“It feels good to be back playing competitive golf again after an extended off season,” said Nikita from Scottsdale. “I’m quiet satisfied with the way I played today and put myself in contention in spite of the ups and downs, but that’s golf! I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow and do it all over again!!”

Anika Varma - Noah Montgomery Images
Anika Varma – Noah Montgomery Image

Anika Varma, cutting her teeth under the tutelage of Noah Montgomery, stumbled on the par-5s. She conceded bogeys on

the second and sixth holes as she continues to build up experience playing on the Cactus Tour. Bogey at the 11th hole dropped her three over, but she made birdies at the par-3 12th hole and par-4 final hole to end the day tied in sixth with Nikita.

 

Amateur Calynne Rosholt and Riley Rennell also shot 73 to round out the top ten at the end of an eventful opening day at the Orange Tree Golf Club. Gianna Singh, another amateur golfer made an 82.

 

Nikita Arjun - Image from player's FB page