28 August 2021: Swedish amateur Beatrice Wallin leads the Skafto Open alongside Magdalena Simmermacher after both players shot an opening round of 67 in Bohuslän. There is a strong contingent of Indian golfers this week in Sweden. Vani Kapoor is at the head of our group, with an opening 71 placing her at T18. Aditi Ashok is a further stroke back at 3-over 72 on the par-69 course. Amandeep Drall and Astha Madan will seek to restore some pride after enduring rounds of 80 and 84 respectively.
The 22-year-old made the most of her familiar surroundings in Skafto, as she kept her composure amid gusty conditions to share the lead after 18 holes played.
Things didn’t start ideally for the home favourite, as she bogeyed the first, but she redeemed herself with birdies on five and seven to finish the back nine a shot to the good.
And despite another dropped shot on ten, the 2017 Ping Junior Solheim Cup player bounced back with a birdie on the 13th, before picking up another shot with her final shot of the day to card for a first round 67.
“I was a little bit nervous this morning because I haven’t competed in a few weeks, and when I was hitting balls on the range in the wind was nerve-wracking because I haven’t played with this much wind lately,” Wallin said.
“I feel like I played very steady, my tee shots were mostly on the fairway which helps a lot.
“It was a lot of fun, I had a great group, and they both played really well as well, so it was a good day at the golf course!”
It was a similar story of up and downs for Simmermacher, who shot six birdies and four bogeys in her day, with two birdies on the last three holes securing her spot at the top of the standings after the first day’s play.
The Argentine – who recently competed in the Tokyo Olympics – made the most of conditions later in the day in Skafto, as the blustery winds from earlier in the day settled down.
Elsewhere, there are swathes of blue and yellow across the leaderboard after Friday’s action, with no less than four Swedes within a shot of the lead on -1.
Among the chasing pack who shot 68 today is Caroline Hedwall, with the 32-year-old firmly in the hunt for a seventh LET title after day one.
Things could have been even better for the four-time Solheim Cup player, who birdied two of the first three holes to put herself out in front in the early stages in Skafto, but the unpredictable conditions left her pleased to be the right side of par after the full 18 holes.
“I’m just happy to get in in red numbers, it was really tough out there and I even left a couple of birdies out there where I had a couple of really good chances,” she said.
“The wind is swirling so much so you just have to commit to the shot and be patient out there.”
With Hedwall and Wallin grouped together – alongside Amy Boulden – the senior of the two Swedes admitted the quality of the group spurred each other on out on course.
“I’ve played with Beatrice before and she’s a great golfer, so I’m not surprised that she’s playing that well and it makes it easier in the tough conditions to play with good players. “
Hedwall sits alongside compatriots Linda Wessberg, Annelie Sjoholm and amateur Ingrid Lindblad on one shot under-par, as well as England’s Gemma Clews and French starlet Pauline Roussin Bouchard with the top eight players separated by a single shot heading into the weekend.
It was former World Amateur Golf Rankings number one Roussin Bouchard who made much of the early running on the banks of the North Sea, with the young talent five-under after seven holes after a blistering start to her round.
The 21-year-old seemed to make light of the conditions while others seemed to struggle, but run of five bogeys between holes eight and 13 saw drawn back into the chasing pack, before finishing strongly to keep in contention.
“At the start of the day I just thought there’s lots of wind so I’m just going to go for it and try to get the birdies, there’s going to be bogeys too but that’s fine,” she said.
“The wind was twirling all day, and I struggled figuring it out, especially on the back nine. The greens are very small so it’s very easy to miss them.”
Gudrun Bjorgvinsdottir, Astrid Vayson de Pradenne and Nicole Broch Estrup all finished on level-par 69 for the day to head into Saturday in T9, and just two shots off the lead, while a further six players find themselves a further shot back on +1.
It was a tough day for the top three players in the Race to Costa del Sol heading into the weekend, with race leader Atthaya Thitikul ending the day two-over par, with nearest challengers Steph Kyriacou and Sanna Nuutinen also finishing on the same score.