VIPINGO RIDGE, Dec 5 – Sweden’s Julia Engstrom shot an impeccable round of 67 on the first day of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open on Thursday to emerge overnight leader with a one-shot lead.
Teeing off from the first tee in the afternoon, Engstrom carded a front nine total of 34 thanks to consecutive birdies at the par-4 third and the par-3 fourth; and having not dropped a shot.
On the back nine, she carded a total of 33 courtesy of birdies at the par-5 11th; the par-4, 14th; the par-5 15th and the par-4 18th. She holed the only bogey of the round at the par-4, 13th.
Currently ranked 40th on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit, Engstrom comes to the Magical Kenya Ladies Open tournament with the wind in her sails having finished joint fourth – just four shots off the winner – at the Women’s Spanish Open that was held last week.
Speaking after the round Julia said:
“I played pretty good today, especially around the greens. My putting and chipping was good and my ball striking was alright. The greens I hit, I hit them close, which gave me lots of birdie opportunities.”
“The wind started blowing from the fourth hole as a thunderstorm was coming in close by and we could feel that, but it was nice to have some breeze because it was so hot. It’s always nice to have a few good tournaments and after last week, I tried to stay calm and not stress out too much.”
Engstrom’s efforts were just enough to dislodge England’s Liz Young off the lead.
Young opened up her Vipingo challenge with a superb round of 68 to emerge Clubhouse Leader at the end of the morning tee off.
Teeing off from the first, alongside Emilie Alonso from France, she carded a first nine total of 35 courtesy of a couple of birdies at the par-3, fourth and the par-4 seventh; having holed the only bogey of the round at the par-3, eighth.
Young had a better back nine, holing three birdies – at the par-5 11th, the par-5 15th and the par-3 17th – to card a back nine total of 33. With 14 top-ten finishes in 153 tournaments, she came to the tournament on the back of a 16th place finish at the Women’s Spanish Open.
Speaking at the end of her round, she said she was delighted with her performance adding that she is looking forward to playing steady rounds in the remaining days.
“I played really solid. I’ve just played in Spain and I felt I played well there, but just made a few stupid mistakes. It was a top 20 finish, so I was happy. I’ve brought my game to Kenya and a few putts went in this morning,” she said.
The duo finished ahead of Germany’s Esther Henseleit and Astrid Vayson De Pradenne from France who finished the round tied in third with 3-under par 69 scores.
Henseleit, who yesterday emerged pro winner at the Pro-Am event and who is the 2019 LET Rookie of the Year, said she was pleased with her performance today.
“I started a bit interesting, I would say, but over the last 14 holes, I played really good; holing some putts and missing some but overall the performance was good.”
Meanwhile, USA’s Cheyenne Woods, finished the round in solitary fifth with a 2-under par 70 score leaving her in close contention of the lead going into the second round. Speaking after her round she said:
“I played pretty steady. I definitely could have made a few more birdies, but overall I thought I handled the course pretty well and I’m happy with where my game is. It definitely is challenging and very demanding off the tee.”
“The greens are so different to last week that it takes some adjusting. The weather is a little muggy and sweaty and hot, so you have to work on conserving your energy and being ready to play 18 holes the next three days.”
Meanwhile, Naomi Wafula was the top Kenyan lady golfer after the round with a 6-over 78 score -one shot ahead of Nyali Golf Club’s Bhavi Shah.
The trio of Agnes Nyakio, Mercy Nyanchama and Margaret Njoki finished their round with 15-over par, 17-over par and 21-over par scores.