Norwegian Suzann Pettersen, world-ranked number two, put herself in perfect position to retain her World Ladies Championship title as she fired a first round six-under-par 67 on the Blackstone Course at Mission Hills Resort Haikou in China. World No.1 amateur, Aussie Minjee Lee, who won the Victoria Open 10 days ago on the Australian Ladies Professional Golf Tour and South Korean Ye Na Chung fired a pair of five-under-par 68s to share second. The pair trails Pettersen by a single stroke going into the second round.
After setting out in hot and humid conditions, the two-time major winner, who won the 2013 World Ladies Championship on the Sandbelt Trails Course at the same resort last year, birdied the tenth before picking up further shots on the 12th and 18th holes. She then eagled the par-five second, after hitting her approach to within ten feet of the flag using an eight iron and making the putt.
After dropping a stroke on the third, she recovered with a birdie on the fifth and another on the sixth, which could easily have been another eagle had she not missed a putt from around four feet.
Pettersen, who had an eagle and three birdies on the par-5s, went to the clubhouse feeling very good about her game.
I played a lot of good golf today and felt like I had a lot of great chances. I feel like you’ve really got to take advantage of the par fives out here . . .
Here Comes Minjee Lee!
The 17-year-old Lee from Australia showed that she has the talent to mix with the best as she reeled off seven birdies and two bogeys.
She finished the day one ahead of Trish Johnson, Valentine Derrey and playing partners Gwladys Nocera and Inbee Park, with So Yeon Ryu and Nikki Campbell a stroke further behind in a share of eighth. Xi Yu Lin was the best placed Chinese player on one-under-par in a share of 14thplace.
Inbee Park Trails Leaders
World No.1 Park, the runner-up in the 2013 championship, fired three birdies and an eagle against one bogey. However, she couldn’t catch Lee, who said:
It feels good to be up there but it’s only the first round so anything can happen. I’m in a good position and I don’t feel like I’m out of place. I feel like I can play with the pros and it was pretty cool playing with Inbee.
Pettersen’s New Fan
At a media conference following her first round, Pettersen revealed the identity of the man following her outside the ropes, much to the amusement of the Chinese press, her boyfriend, Christian, a Norwegian skier who understands the demands of professional sports.
The World Ladies Championship continues on Friday, with live YouTube streaming over the weekend. This link will take you there:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xj1wa8jPqeQ.