Date: February 01, 2007
Author: Luke Buttigieg

Kemp stays clear

By Luke Buttigieg Sarah Kemp leads after the opening round of the MFS Women&aposs Australian Open at Royal Sydney, with her fellow Australians Karrie Webb and Nikki Campbell just a shot back in equal second. Making the most of ideal conditions, Kemp signed for a morning six-under 66 and the outright lead by a shot from Campbell, who sizzled early with an outward 29 before losing momentum to also give up her share of top spot with a bogey at her final hole. In the afternoon world No.3 and two-time champion Webb ominously moved within a shot of Kemp with her second eagle of the day at the 16th, having also made a couple of birdies, but two closing pars saw her also sign for a 67. A stroke further adrift in fourth place is Yun-Jye Wei of Chinese Taipei, while Koreans Hee-Young Park and Amy Yang, the defending ANZ Ladies Masters champion, and South African amateur Ashleigh Simon all carded 69s to be three-under. Solid early with five straight pars, back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th holes took Kemp into red figures, but 26-year-old Japanese Tour star Campbell had opened up a four-stroke lead by scorching around the back nine. The momentum continued after the turn for Kemp with four more birdies in five holes, which gave her a share of the lead after Campbell dropped a shot at the third, before Kemp finished with her 66. Having opened with three birdies in five holes from the 10th and then gone to the turn with an eagle and two birdies, Campbell looked set to match that score despite her bogey soon after the turn, but the second dropped shot at the ninth left her one back. Wei quickly moved within a couple of shots of Kemp&aposs lead in the afternoon with four birdies in seven holes, but her momentum stalled and she finished with the 68 after bogeying 17 and birdieing the last. Park led earlier in the day when she got to four-under thanks to an eagle and two birdies, but she gave one of the shots back at the 10th and then closed with eight successive pars. Simon meanwhile had a rollercoaster round, opening with three birdies in five holes before a double bogey and two bogeys dropped her back to plus one, but she staged a superb recovery with four subsequent birdies. Australian Lindsey Wright, Swede Louise Stahle, Germans Bettina Hauert and Martina Eberl, American Brittany Lincicome, Korean Sun Ju Ahn and Englishwoman Danielle Masters all completed rounds of 70 to be tied for eighth place. Welshwoman Eleanor Pilgrim, Australian amateur Bree Arthur and Swede Linda Wessberg are among those in equal 15th place on minus one, and Frenchwoman Stephanie Arricau and Australian Katherine Hull are 22nd and square with the card. Englishwoman Kirsty S Taylor, who held the outright lead in the early going, is tied for 27th on plus one after shooting 73, alongside compatriot and defending champion Laura Davies, who fell back after birdieing the first two holes. American glamour girl Natalie Gulbis and Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera both carded 74s for a share of 44th, and the group of players sharing 56th place on three-over includes locals Rachel Hetherington and amateur Sarah Oh. The third player in Campbell and Wessberg&aposs group, Italian Veronica Zorzi, finished with a 76, and Shani Waugh had to be content with a 78 as she collected one birdie, five bogeys and a double bogey. 2006 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year Nikki Garrett didn&apost fare well either, the 23-year-old Australian finishing at plus 10 with an 82 after failing to recover from a start that saw her go bogey, double bogey, bogey from the 10th. Thursday&aposs forecast was for morning showers but only light, intermittent rain fell and the wind, which can make Royal Sydney much tougher to negotiate, was only moderate throughout the day in the overcast conditions.