New Zealand’s former world No.1 Lydia Ko has made a superb start to the Saudi Ladies International while Australia’s major-winning star Minjee Lee got off to a stuttering opening at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
Ko and Spain’s Solheim Cup luminary Carlota Ciganda share the lead following Thursday’s first round, both having carded five-under-par 67s in the Ladies European Tour event at King Abdullah Economic City in Saudi Arabia.
But Evian Championship winner Lee, the world No.5, already has her work cut out after firing a one-over par 73 later in the day, a round scarred by a double-bogey six at the short par-four sixth hole.
With Stephanie Kyriacou, a leading light on the LET also going round in 73, the Australian challenge was being spearheaded by 30-year-old Western Australian Whitney Hillier, whose two-under 70 left her in joint eighth place.
Queenslander Amy Walsh was on level par after her opening round.
Two-time major winner Ko, who began her round on the 10th tee, took advantage of the benign morning conditions to record six birdies and one bogey in her 67.
“I didn’t drive it very well, but I think every time I did miss it, I wasn’t in that much trouble. It was a combination of being lucky when I didn’t hit it good,” she noted.
“My irons were really good, so I had a lot of opportunities, and I holed a few good putts. Hopefully, I will sharpen up the tee shots.”
From the afternoon groups, three-time Solheim Cup winner Ciganda, who got off to a blistering start to make the turn in 31, ended up matching the New Zealander.
England’s Bronte Law, who won the Dubai Moonlight Classic last week, birdied the first and made a hole-in-one on the third before having to settle for a two-under 70.