Lindberg, Nontaya share lead on Day One

Gurgaon: Despite temperatures dropping dramatically in the morning Swede Pernilla Lindberg and Thailand’s Nontaya Srisawang were shinning like beacons through the fog to grab the opening day’s honours at the USD 300,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf & Country Club here today.  The duo brought in identical bogey-free cards of six-under 66.

Caroline Hedwall, Florentyna Parker (both England) and two-time champion Pornanong Phatlum (Thailand) were tied third one stroke behind at 67. English-born Kiran Matharu, who has Indian roots, shot 68 to be sixth.

Smriti Mehra, for long India’s best woman professional, rode on a nice patch in the middle of the round with four birdies between the sixth and 12th to cared an even par 72 in the first round. It may well have been under-par but for a bogey on the 17th and a three putt on 18th. Smriti and Neha Tripathi (72) were the best Indians at even par 72 in tied 35th.

There was an Indian connection near the top of the leaderboard as Kiran Matharu, an English golfer of Indian origin, carded a superb 68, including an eagle on 18th, her ninth hole. She had three birdies, an eagle and a bogey in her 68 as she was lying fourth two shots behind co-leaders, Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden and Thai Nontaya Srisawang.

Smriti Mehra said, "I played solid today.  My driving and iron play were satisfactory.  However, I need to take a lot less time on the putting green.  This is what Ill be addressing tomorrow.  The course played superb and I'm happy with my overall game."

Neha Tripathi, one-under through the front nine, dropped three bogeys between 10th and 14th but just as the end neared she picked two good birdies on the 16th and 18th to come to even par 72 and was tied 35th.

Lindberg, who was running fever a day earlier, teed off from the tenth, took a bow at the Hero Women’s Indian Open 2011 with a birdie.  The 25-year old recorded three more birdies on the 14th, 15th and 18th before making the turn at four-under.  On her back nine she parred her first six holes and then pressed her foot on the pedal again to birdie the seventh and eight and finished the day at six-under 66.  “I was really relaxed out there.  I had a fever last night and didn’t feel very good so it made me relax and focus on making contact and it seemed to work,” she said.

Srisawang, just six days short of her 24th birthday, returned an identical 66 after teeing up from the tenth like Lindberg. She posted four birdies before the turn from the 13th to the 16th. Then the Golf Management student at Ramkhamhang University in Bangkok, who lost in a play-off to Laura Davies last year, added a birdie on the first to go five-under. Her next birdie came on her final hole. “I was so lucky today. I hit 17 greens and kept the tee shots on the fairway.  This is my first year on the LET and I am really keen to do well here,” she said .

English golfer of Indian origin, Kiran Matharu, shot a 68, to be sole sixth and then added, "If there's one tournament outside a major that I want to win, it is the Hero Women's India Open."

Florentyna Parker was barely half-way through her round when the entire golf course was abuzz with the possibility of a new course record.  The gallery flocked to the tenth to follow the 22-year-old Germany-born English golfer. She was then five-under after nine with a birdie on the fourth, an eagle on the sixth, followed by back-to-back birdies on the seventh and eighth.  However, Parker dropped a shot on the 12th and with a lone back-nine birdie on the 17th finished at five-under 67. 

Caroline Hedwall, touted as the next big thing in Women’s Golf, started with a birdie on the tenth and one on the 13th highlighted her outward journey.  From the 15th to the 17th she had a hat-trick of birdies and ended at five-under.

“I think it’s pretty tricky course. It’s short and you really need to have a good strategy to get around here with a low score,” said Hedwall.

Pornanong Phatlum, played error free golf with birdies on the sixth and seventh on the way out and three more on the 11th, 12th and 15th after making the turn.

Laura Davies' luck at the DLF Golf & Country Club continued to blow hot and cold.  Still without her caddie Johnny Scott, who first missed his flight and now his flight has been delayed. Using the trolley to cart her bag around the course Davies shot 75. With 60 and ties making the cut she cannot afford another disappointing round.

The charismatic Christina Kim finished with a 72.