Four South Africans teed off in Friday’s start of the Ladies European Tour’s Ladies Open de Portugal on the Algarve in Portugal, and Laurette Maritz used her experience for a solid 2-over par finish, six shots off the leading three.
Starting at the tenth tee, Maritz was two shots down after three holes, recovering on the 14th before another bogie on the 16th hole, but from there produced a succession of 11 par holes to stay in within striking distance of her best 2007 finish.
Finishing one shot behind her were Lee-Anne Pace and Stacy-Lee Bregman in their Rookie pro year, another shot ahead of the final South African entrant, Morgana Robbertze in her second LET event, who recorded five bogies against a lone birdie at the 18th flag.
For her three-over, Bregman finished with three birdies against six bogies, her even-par first 9 ending with more difficulty, while Pace was much more measured, her single birdie at the eighth hole a vast improvement after starting on the 10th tee and going down four birdies in her first nine holes.
Meanwhile Australians Cherie Byrnes and Lisa Jean shared the lead along with France’s Jade Schaeffer after the first round, when all three shot four-under-par 68s at the Gramacho Pestana Golf Resort near Carvoeiro, to lead by one stroke from seven players.
LET rookie Melodie Bourdy from France, Spain’s Laura Cabanillas, Scotland’s Lynn Kenny, Finland’s Minea Blomqvist, Denmark’s Mianne Bagger, Sweden’s Johanna Westerberg and Australia’s Joanne Mills carded three-under-par 69s.
Byrnes recorded her career best finish of joint third on the same course in 2005 and she said: “It brought back good memories coming back here. The greens are so good so it makes it nice to play. The course is in great condition and it’s nice to be playing in great weather.
“It’s the first time I’ve broken 30 putts in a long time – I only had 29 – and I hit 15 greens so I’ve hit the ball quite well. I also holed birdie putts – I had seven birdies today. I’ve had a lot of opportunities lately and I haven’t been making them so it was good today that they rolled in for me.
“You need to hit lots of fairways here because the rough is reasonably thick. I missed a couple of fairways which cost me bogeys because the ball was sitting down.”
Byrnes is aiming to play her way into the Ricoh Women’s British Open this week. She currently occupies 54th place on the New Star Money List but to qualify automatically players must be inside the top 25 on the New Star Money List on the cut off date of 3rd July, this Tuesday.