By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 10/01/19 3:16pm
Charley Hull made a bright start to her 2019 campaign as she claimed a two-shot lead after the first round of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open in Abu Dhabi.
Hull coped well with the blustery conditions at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and kept a bogey off her card in an opening five-under 67 which gave her the early advantage in the first event of the new Ladies European Tour season.
The 22-year-old began her round with a 15-foot putt for birdie at the 10th, and she picked up further shots at 11 and 13 before holing from 10 feet for another gain at the 16th to race to four under.
The putts dried up for Hull over the front nine, although she did convert an excellent tee shot to four feet at the short sixth and parred safely home to stay two clear of Nicole Broch Larsen and Luna Sobron on a day when only 12 players broke par.
“I played pretty steady and holed a few putts and then, on my back nine, I plodded along,” said Hull, who is without a win since the CME Group Tour Championship in November, 2016. “I was hitting good putts which lipped out, so the highlights were on my front nine.”
Hull admitted she was still adapting to her new equipment, adding: “The new irons are not quite where I want them to be. They are spinning loads and I don’t really like it.
“I’ve changed my set of irons this week and I’m trying them out, but they are going a club shorter so I’ll change back to my old ones when I get home. I’ll practise my punch shots and figure out how to keep them low.”
Larsen got off to a torrid start as she bogeyed three of the first four holes and turned in 39, but the Dane produced an outstanding fightback on the back nine and stormed home in just 30 blows, with six birdies.
“I got off to a bad start to say the least,” said Larsen. “I hit some bad shots and couldn’t find the rhythm. On the back nine, I started to hit some better shots and gained some confidence, so it was a lot more fun. It’s playing tough and you’ve got to hit good shots. I was good at judging the wind on the back nine.”
Hull’s Solheim Cup team-mate, Jodi Ewart Shadoff, carded a solid 70 to share fourth with Rebecca Artis and Cajsa Persson, but defending champion Aditi Ashok struggled to a four-over 76 after she followed a double-bogey seven at the 15th with bogeys at each of the last two holes