Her short game nicely home, Supamas Sangchan fired a bogey-free five-under-par 67 to seize the early initiative at the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic at Emirates Golf Club on Wednesday.
Starting from the 10th tee, the 21-year- old Bangkok native came to life on the front nine after making the turn at one-under, reeling off four birdies in six holes to leave a strong field trailing in her wake.
Noora Tamminen celebrated the centenary of Finland’s independence in style, producing the shot of the day when she aced the par-3, 11th to join fellow countrywoman Minea Blomqvist, also dressed in her national colours, and Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark for a share of second one shot adrift.
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Dame Laura Davies mixed five birdies with two bogeys to move into a seven-way tie for seventh on three under as the 2009 Dubai Ladies Classic champion In-Kyung Kim settled for a one-over 73 on a day when 45 players broke par.
“Played some good, solid golf. Going bogey-free always makes you feel good. Happy with the start. You need to putt well here, as the greens are pretty fast,” said Sangchan, who joined the Ladies European Tour after winning the 2016 Sanya Ladies Open in China.
Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen fired six birdies against two bogeys to round off a good day at work. “I am very pleased with the round. I didn’t hit very close, but made some nice putts and didn’t make too many mistakes, so I’m very happy with the finish.
“It’s a course where you can hit the driver pretty much everywhere, so if you can hit a good driver, then you are good to go. The greens are a bit tricky, not many slopes,” she added.
Scotland’s MacDonald also sounded pleased with her day’s efforts, saying: “I made a couple of birdies in the first few holes which was nice. I have got one of my best friends on the bag and that made things more enjoyable.
“This is my favourite event apart from the Scottish Open. They (the organisers) look after us so well. Also, the course is really good. Each hole is different, but I seem to get momentum going which is really good.”
American Brittany Lincicome, making her debut in Dubai, carded a one-under 71 to sit six shots off the pace along with India’s Aditi Ashok and China’s Muni He, who has just turned professional.
Among the notables, the English duo Charley Hull and Georgia Hall shot matching two-under 70s for a share of 14th as Camille Chevalier, chasing the Rookie of the Year award, settled for a 75 that left her languishing at the bottom end of the leaderboard.
“I kind of struggled on the back, but overall played okay. It was definitely windy the back nine, but I managed to hit some good shots which was good,” said Hall, who has already assured herself of the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit title.
“It’s really nice to win the Order of Merit. That’s one of my aims at the start of the year. It’s nice, as well, to get my LPGA Tour card. So, it’s kind of a relaxing week for me.”
Suzann Pettersen returns to the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic early next month, hoping to crack the winner’s circle and end the year on a high note.
Some good vibes on her side, a two-time major winner, Pettersen racked up a creditable third at ANA Inspiration among her four top-10s on the LPGA Tour and a second at Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Meryem Cup, signaling her return to form.
Currently ranked 30th in the world, the 36-year-old Oslo native will be looking to summon her top game and end a winless spell since the 2015 Manulife LPGA Classic when she joins the starting line-up at the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic to be held at Emirates Golf Club from December 6 to 9, seeking a revenge of sorts after finishing in a tie for 35th in her maiden appearance last year.
“I show up to win tournaments, get better and break my own records. I hate losing. I still feel the desire every morning when I wake up to go out and try and become better than I was yesterday,” said Norwegian ace, who boasts 22 professional wins, including seven on the Ladies European Tour.
“Fortunately, we’re in a sport where you have age on your side. There’s always bits and pieces you feel like you can do better, improve. So, losing is probably my biggest motivation,” said Pettersen, who reached a career-high No.2 in the world rankings after her victory in the Evian Championship in 2013 and held that position several times.
“It was my first time in Dubai last year, but the experience was just amazing. They have a great field, a great course and the players feel welcomed. The whole place has a really buzzing and pulsating atmosphere. I look forward to visiting the vibrant city and hope I will be in mix coming down the final stretch.
“However, for that to happen, it would take something special to beat the challenge, but I will try my best and see what happens,” said Pettersen, who has fully recovered from a slipped disc that forced her to withdraw from this year’s Solheim Cup.
“If you can’t even be 90 per cent there’s no point. So you have to kind of be honest with yourself, look yourself in the mirror and say are you fit enough to go or not,” said the Norwegian who has featured in the biennial golf tournament for professional women golfers eight times.
Commented Peter Dawson, chairman of Golf in Dubai, the promoters and organizers of the Omega Dubai Ladies Classic: “We are delighted to welcome Suzann back to Dubai. She has been at the top of the women’s golf for a long time now and I know her desire to win tournaments is undiminished. I wish her the very best.”
It was an exhilarating final day for fans as a back-nine battle saw India’s Aditi Ashok hold on to emerge victorious in the second Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open with an untouchable 18 under par.
Ashok who started the day in first position after three solid performances, hit her weakest round of the week; which was still an astonishingly low three under par, helping her to a third career LET title and €70,787.85 first prize purse.
Ashok was certainly the most consistent over the four days so it was no surprise the seasoned golfer would be in the mix.
She said: “I was in control as I had my game plan and I wasn’t too aggressive. I just kept giving myself birdie putts. That was the story of my putting all week. I guess it was the birdies that did it for me.”
Meanwhile, Georgia Hall went into the day in fifth position, looking to better her runner-up performance from 2016, and with a stellar front nine of 33 consisting of three birdies and six pars, the talented Hall looked confident.
The back nine saw the requisite number of birdies excruciatingly fall short for Hall who managed three birdies and six pars for the remaining back nine, meaning she had to settle for second place.
The 21-year-old said: “I’m a little disappointed, I thought to myself I needed eight under today and I was ticking them off in my head. I hit the ball great all week but putted really badly, and didn’t hole anything today. But Aditi played great again and managed to par the last, so well done to her.”
She added: ”I played the best rounds, in terms of my long game in 2017, but putting, I hit good ones and they just weren’t going in. Going down the last, I thought I was three behind, so I thought I had no chance, if I had known maybe things would have been different but it is what it is. But I really enjoyed the week in Abu Dhabi and had a lot of fun out there.”
Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth also managed to keep the pressure on throughout the day. A consistent performance of six birdies, aside from a fourteenth hole bogey, kept her nipping at the heels of Ashok and Hall, but it was not enough to quite catch the top two.
Lennarth said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with how I finished today. I have had a really solid week and gave it my all out there. I am going to go home, missing India and China, to get some much needed recovery before playing in Dubai.”
The day belonged to Ashok though, who demonstrated consistency and skill all week that is bound to inspire those who got to witness how thrilling women’s golf is today.
Dr Mai Al Jaber, Board Member of The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, said: “Congratulations to all the lady golfers. It has been wonderful to witness their power and grace this week and they have provided us with four days of amazing action. I have no doubt that their participation will inspire women of all ages to become involved in this sport.
“As members of the Abu Dhabi sporting community, our vision is to inspire the next generation of UAE sports stars by offering them the platform to succeed. We look forward to continuing the tournament’s legacy and further growing the game here in Abu Dhabi.”
His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary at Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), owner of the event, said: “We would like to Her Highness Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak – Mother of the Nation, Chairwoman of the General Women’s Union Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation and President of the Supreme Council for Motherhood and Childhood, for her continued efforts in ensuring ladies excel in all sports and positioning Abu Dhabi as a global sports destination for them.
“We saw a great numbers of visitors over the past four days, which we consider to be a huge success in encouraging ladies and young people to play this game. This tournament will continue to at the forefront of the global agenda as one of the most important stages for the players to compete in.
“I would like to congratulate Aditi for her four amazing days and becoming the second winner.”