For a course considered tricky even by the best professionals, the greens at the Delhi Golf Course were quite benign on the first day of the Hero Women’s Indian Open on Thursday.
But while the tournament favourites failed to cash in on the bright sunshine and favourable conditions, Thidapa Suwannapura and Valentine Derrey raced ahead in the afternoon with impressive scores of six-under 66 to be tied at the top after Round One.
Suwannapura, who finished tied 13th in the tournament last year, had seven birdies in her round.
Starting on the back nine, Suwannapura birdied the 11th, 13th and 16th holes before moving to the front nine for three more on the 1st, 4th and 6th before dropping a shot on the par-three 7th hole. But she recovered immediately to birdie the next.
Her strategy to only keep the ball in play paid off.
“Given the kind of tough course it is, you cannot afford to hit into the trees. You will end up tearing your shirt.
“So I was only thinking of hitting straight. I don’t even know my final score, but I didn’t expect such low scores,” the LPGA regular said after finishing her round.
Hitting straight was the trump card for Derrey as well. The 66 is the lowest ever she has shot in her career so far, and the Frenchwoman was expectedly happy.
With six birdies and, more importantly, a bogie-free round, Derrey was hopeful of continuing the charge on the second day.
The scores were not expected when the best performance in the morning was a four-under by Hannah Jun of USA. Jun, playing in her second Indian Open, hardly used her driver, just like everyone else.
“I hit a lot of birdie putts but on this course, a driver is hardly useful. It’s more about accuracy on the tough and tight fairways than power,” she said.
Seventeen-year old Charley Hull of England, in contention for the Ladies European Tour’s Rookie of the Year award, was placed fourth with a 69. Veteran Sophie Gustafson of Sweden was one-under for the day while Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera shot three-over.
Vani Kapoor and Gauri Monga led the Indian hopes with one-over 73 on the first day to be placed tied 15th.
“I made a couple of mistakes today but I am satisfied with the start I have made.
“There is nothing drastic I need to change, just fine-tune my game a bit for the next round,” the Gurgaon girl said.
Amateur Monga was unlucky, shooting a triple bogey on the last hole after having managed to keep her score under par through the day.
The scores: 66: Thidapa Suwannapura (Tha), Valentine Derrey (Fra); 68: Hanna Jun (USA); 69: Charley Hull (Eng); 70: Titiya Plucksataporn (Tha), Bo-Mi Suh (Kor); 71: Sophie Gustafson (Swe), Grace Lee (Kor), Sarah Kemp (Aus); 72: Danielle Montgomery (GBR), Elina Nummenpaa (Fin), Kylie Walker (Sco).