Somehow, in between camel rides and falconry and visits to Bedouin camps for henna tattoos, the women are still finding time to swing their sticks at the LET Omega Dubai Ladies Masters. In the midst of a Party On! atmosphere there’s some great golf being played at Emirates Golf Club. The upper levels of the leaderboard are dominated by 2013 Solheim Cup alumnae from both Team Europe and Team USA: Carlota Ciganda, Stacy Lewis, Charley Hull, and Carolina Masson.
Spaniards Carlota Ciganda and Mireira Prat shared the first round lead with Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg when the trio all went to the clubhouse with five-under-par 67s on Wednesday.
Defending champion Shanshan Feng suffered a disappointing opening round. Fresh from winning the LPGA Titleholders championship, Rolex Ranked No. 4 Feng mixed five bogeys with one birdie her four-over 76.
Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand is holding solo fourth going into the 2nd round, just one stroke behind the leaders, with Germany’s Caroline Masson alone in fifth on three-under-par.
Rolex Ranked No. 3 Stacy Lewis, who is making her first appearance in Dubai, kept herself in the frame as one of seven players in a share of sixth on two-under 70 along with English pair Charley Hull and Laura Davies.
Hull, who’s leading the race for LET Rookie of the Year, was riding high at four-under-par with a hole to play, but then stubbed her toe and four-putted on the 18th green. Darkness called an early halt to the first round on a day when early fog led to a 30-minute delay to the start of the play.
Prat, 24, from Barcelona, won the LET Access Series Order of Merit last week earning her full card for the 2014 LET and feels relaxed, as though her first visit to Dubai is a prize.
The second year LET member had five birdies and said: “I putted really well. I think I missed three shots and I recovered very well to make par so I’m very happy.
“I know I have my full card for next year and it was my goal for this year, so I think there is no pressure here and maybe that’s the key. I was very confident at the start and played very well and was relaxed. It’s the first day of a four day tournament so I’m going to keep focused and do things like I did today and we’ll see what happens.”
Rated as one of the favorites, Lewis drove the ball well, but felt whatever she did right was derailed once she got on the greens. “It was a bit frustrating out there. I hit the ball well, but just couldn’t make any putts. I think the longest putt I made was six or seven feet. My speed was a little off on the greens.
“I feel like the course is playing hard enough that no-one’s going to run away and shoot a great score. The greens are firm and fast and you’ve got to play smart. I feel like I’m still in it. We’ve got three more days and if I can make some putts I’ll be there.”
Going into the 2nd round the greens are expected to remain hard and fast and everybody’s going to need to roll pin-point accurate putts to stay competitive. Given the distractions — indoor skiing, shopping opportunities, and driving trucks around on the sand dunes — the real challenge may be getting enough sleep!