Date: March 08, 2013
Author: Omnisport

Smith starts well at Mission Hills

Gwladys Nocera of France has eagled the 18th hole at the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship to share the lead after the first round, while Australia&aposs Kristie Smith is two shots back in a tie for ninth. England&aposs Sophie Walker and Sweden&aposs Linda Wessberg were joined by Nocera in a tie for the lead on five under after a stunning finish from the Frenchwoman. The 37-year-old was just two-under par heading to the 17th tee of the Sandbelt Trails Course at Mission Hills Haikou on Thursday but produced a birdie and an eagle to finish the opening round at the top of the leaderboard. All three joint leaders produced bogey-free first rounds at the Ladies European Tour event in China, with Walker carding birdies on the third, seventh, eighth, 12th and 15th holes. Wessberg birdied the second, eighth, ninth, 14th and 15th holes to also finish with a five-under 67. The leading trio ended the round one shot ahead of a group of five players, including world number four Inbee Park of South Korea. Park looked on track for the round of the day when she eagled the par-five eighth hole and followed that with a birdie to be four under on the front nine. But a bogey on the 15th halted the 24-year-old South Korean&aposs momentum and while Park birdied the last hole, she finished one stroke off the lead alongside compatriots Hyo-Joo Kim and Bo-Mi Suh, as well as France&aposs Valentine Derrey and Rungthiwa Pangjan of Thailand. A group of six finished the first day of the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship tied for ninth, a further shot back. Australia&aposs Kristie Smith birdied three of the last five holes to be a part of that group of six on three under after an inconsistent start in China, while Thailand&aposs Narisara Kerdrit and Ariya Jutanugarn, Korean pair Soo Jin Yang and Ha-Neul Kim, and Holly Aitchison of England all carded rounds of 69 as well. World number five and local hope Shanshan Feng led a group of 11 players on two under, which also included Norway&aposs Suzann Pettersen and England&aposs Laura Davies.