Date: February 22, 2019
Author: Rod Morri

Choi leads #AusLadiesClassic

Sydney amateur Doey Choi is the clubhouse leader after the opening day of the Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic – Bonville near Coffs Harbour.

Choi, the reigning Queensland and South Australian amateur champion, fired an impressive 6-under 66 in tricky morning conditions to lead by two strokes from Swedes Madelene Sagstrom and Daniela Holmqvist.

Western Australians Hannah Green and Whitney Hillier are the leading Australian professionals at 3-under and part of a four-way tie for fourth.

Local favourite Sarah Kemp, who played her way back to the LPGA Tour with brilliant performances at both the Vic Open and Australian Women’s Open in the past two weeks, opened with a 1-under 71.

With just 23 players under par, it was good for a share of 10th place.

At the top of the leaderboard Choi reeled off eight birdies against two bogeys on her way to a career-best 18-hole score, a round she said came as a surprise after some poor play at last week’s Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide.

“I didn’t play too good last week, so my confidence wasn’t too high,” she said of her play in South Australia after signing her card. 

“I haven’t been hitting it that great, so it was nice to play some solid golf today. I hit some really good shots, hit lots of greens and didn’t miss too many fairways.”

Choi’s brilliance grabbed the bulk of the attention on day one, but several of the tournament’s more fancied players remain in the mix.

Sagstrom, a three-time winner on the secondary Symetra Tour in America, played steady golf to hold outright second at 4-under and credited a disciplined approach for her good scoring.

“We had a really set game plan,” she said. “We were just trying to hit fairways, trying to hit greens and just get the putter rolling because I know I can make birdies with the putter.

“It was just very steady out there. It was nice.”

Intermittent rains were a frustration for the morning players to deal with but cleared around lunchtime as the afternoon field got underway.

Green, who started with back to back birdies but faltered late on the front nine, said the weather was ‘annoying’ though ultimately not a major issue.

“Towards the end of the first nine I struggled with the putter a little bit,” she said.

“I just hit it on the wrong side of the pins and left myself in difficult spots to two-putt from.

“Overall, though, I was really pleased with how I struck the ball. I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities.”

Of the afternoon players, Holmqvist was the pick, her 4-under 68 including two birdies on each nine and no dropped shots.

“31 putts,” she said when asked the key to her round. “Ball striking was pretty good, I hit 17 greens and reached two of the par-5’s in two.

“I wish I would have made some more putts but don’t we all in this game?”

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