Skarpnord soars to pole

Norwegian cards sizzling 67 to equal course record

Skarpnord soars to pole

Gurugram: Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord took a one-shot lead after an opening round five-under 67 in the 11th Hero Women's Indian Open at the DLF Golf and Country Club on Friday.

Sharing the second place were Camille Chevalier and England's Liz Young, who had taken the clubhouse lead. The two shot 68 each.

Vani Kapoor led the Indian challenge on her home course with a fine 69. She wobbled at the start to go two-over after five holes but the familiarity of course worked to her advantage. She ended up hitting six birdies and three bogeys and was placed tied-fourth along with Meghan MacLaren, Klara Spilkova, Olivia Cowan, Karolin Lampert and Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul.

"I am pretty satisfied because I had a dodgy start and I was two-over after five holes. I was really tense but then I had a birdie on the sixth and then again on the seventh and the ninth. I found my momentum there," said Vani.

Defending champion Aditi Ashok (70) and another local DLF golfer, Gaurika Bishnoi, who is also the Order of Merit leader on the local Hero Women's Pro Golf Tour, were right behind at tied tenth place with eight others.

"I putted okay today but I didn't hit as many approach shots close to the flag as I should have," said Aditi, who found the greens hard on Friday.

Vani, who has an LET card, had seven starts this season and made cuts in five. Her best was tied-36 at Lalla Meryem Cup. She admitted gaining from her travels, especially on the European circuit and hoped for a strong finish here.

"The experience of travelling has been good. I have learned several things about my game. I played at this course two weeks ago and won on the domestic Tour, but then went to Abu Dhabi after that. I came back and played nine holes on Tuesday and Wednesday and the Pro-Am on Thursday. I know this course well, so that was fine," said the petite 23-year-old.

Like Vani, Skarpnord also sank six birdies, but only one bogey on the fifth hole. Her 67 equalled the course record for the Gary Player layout. Thailand's Kongkraphan Patcharajutar had a 67 in the second round in 2015.

"The last time I was here was 2009 or 2010 so I haven't played here since they changed it. I think a lot of the holes are really good but it's just some of the greens are a bit crazy. I just tried to be patient and not worry too much about the bad shots," said Skarpnord.

Among other Indians, Saaniya Sharma (73) was tied-41st and Gursimar Badwal (74) tied-54th. Three other well-known Indian players Amandeep Drall (77), Smriti Mehra (78) and Sharmila Nicollet (79) had a disappointing day.

Meanwhile, Pranavi Urs carded 77 to be the best of the four amateurs who made the start. Anika Varma and SIfat Sagoo shot 78 each. Diksha Dagar shot 80.

Leading scores (after 18 holes, Indians unless specified): 67: Marianne Skarpnord (Nor); 68: Liz Young (Eng), Camille Chevalier(Fra); 69: Vani Kapoor, Meghan MacLaren (Eng), Klara Spilkova (Cze), Olivia Cowan (Ger), Karolin Lampert (Ger), Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul (Tha); 70: Stacy Lee Bregman (Rsa), Chloe Leurquin (Bel), Johanna Gustavsson (Swe), Amy Boulden (Wal), Gaurika Bishnoi, Carlota Ciganda (Spa), Aditi Ashok, Maha Haddioui (Mor), Patcharajutar Kongkraphan (Tha), Michele Thomson (Scot).

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