Super Sharmila hits the front

Golf: Womens Pro tournament

Sharmila Nicollet enjoyed a fine homecoming at the Karnataka Golf Association, storming into sole lead in the opening round of Hero-KGA Women’s Pro Golf tournament here on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old, who holds a full card for the Ladies European Tour, shot the only sub-par card of the day in the season-opening event, hitting a one-under 71.

Defending champion at the KGA, Neha Tripathi, shared the second spot at 73 with Saaniya Sharma while Nalini Singh Siwach was tied fourth along with local amateur Aditi Ashok a further stroke behind.

After parring the opening two holes, Sharmila sunk a seven-foot birdie on the third hole to signal her intentions. However, she found the water body on the par-5 fifth hole, draining a bogey that put her back on level terms.

Sharmila then sank birdies on the ninth and 10th holes before bogeys on the 11th and 12th ruined all her good work. However, she capped a mixed day with a six-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to sign off on a positive note.

“I played well and hit the ball well and I am happy with my overall game today,” said Sharmila. “I want to do well and get back my confidence before I go for more events in Asia and Europe. I know there is room for improvement. Driving was the key and the greens were not so fast today. An under-par round after a long time is a big boost to my confidence.”

“The good thing is the 71 came despite three bogeys on par-fives, which is usually my strength. All my bogeys came on par-fives and that really is unusual, because I can reach most of these par-fives in two. But it also means I can look forward to doing better tomorrow.”

Leading scores (after 18 holes, ‘A’ denotes amateur): 71: Sharmila Nicollet; 73: Neha Tripathi, Saaniya Sharma; 74: Nalini Singh Siwach, Aditi Ashok (A); 75: Vani Kapoor; 77: Smriti Mehra; 78: Shraddhanjali Singh; 80: Seema Sonti, Preetinder Kaur.

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