SA Girls Struggle in Sweden
Ashleigh Simon set out with fellow South Africans Laurette Maritz and Stacy Lee Bregman at the Scandinavian TPC Hosted by Annika at the Barsebäck Golf and Country Club, in Malmo, Sweden on Thursday, but all three found the going difficult.
Simon and Bregman each finished the first round on three-over par 75’s, while Maritz carded a five-over 77, to settle dangerously near the expected tournament half-way cut-off mark.
The first-round leader Minea Blomqvist signed a four-under par 68, to move her one stroke clear of Sweden’s Louise Stahle and American Laura Diaz.
Blomqvist posted two birdies and a bogey on the opening nine holes, but three birdies in five holes on the back nine allowed the 2004 OTP Bank Central Open winner to emerge as the outright leader.
Sweden’s Maria Hjorth tied with early leader Jade Schaeffer of France and Swedish amateur Caroline Hedwall, twin sister of Jacqueline, who is also in the field, on two-under-par 70.
Schaeffer’s eagle on the 17th hole, where she holed her approach shot from 110 yards, helped her to take the clubhouse lead at lunchtime.
Stahle heads a list of eight Swedish players in the top 13, which also includes Hjorth, Sophie Gustafson, Linda Wessberg, Lotta Wahlin, Carin Koch and host Annika Sörenstam, all on one-under 71.
Blomqvist, who splits her time between the Ladies European Tour and the American-based Ladies Professional Golf Association, needed only 24 putts during her round of 68.
She added that European Solheim Cup Team captain Helen Alfredsson had also helped her overcome her confidence issues.
“When I was in US, she was there so I stayed with her in her house for a couple of weeks practicing together,” she said. “She’s been very supportive, even though I haven’t been playing all that well this year.”
Blomqvist admitted that her game had been so bad in recent weeks that she asked her coach Timo Rauhala to caddy for her at Barsebäck this week. “I haven’t been playing so good,” she said. “He (Rauhala) said the only goal is to see perfect shots this week. I tried to stay with it today.”
It was a ‘funny day’ for Sörenstam, the defending champion, who was greeted by hundreds of supporters when she teed off at 8.20am alongside Norway’s Suzann Pettersen and American Brittany Lincicome.
“It was a little bit of a rollercoaster,” said the 69-time LPGA and 15-time LET tournament winner. I had a bunch of birdies and a bunch of bogeys. I am not quite as pleased with my game as I could be.
“I missed several fairways and greens, but I hit some really good shots and putted well.”