Date: September 08, 2012
Author: Omnisport

Whitaker equal leader at UNIQA

Alison Whitaker and Caroline Hedwall share a one-shot lead after the first round of the UNIQA Ladies Golf Open. Australian Whitaker and Swedish defending champion Hedwall both carded five-under 67s at Golfclub Fohrenwald in Wiener Neustadt, Austria. The leaders are one shot clear of Australian Stacey Keating, Swede Mikaela Parmlid and Czech Klara Spilkova at the 54-hole tournament. Whitaker, in her first season on the Ladies European Tour, holed seven birdies – five of which came on the front nine – and two bogeys on Friday. “It was good fun out there and it was nice to see some putts going in and some birdies being made. I hit the ball better today,” she said. “I hit it really straight and felt like I could be aggressive at pins.” On a strong day for the Australian contingent, Stephanie Na and Frances Bondad finished at one under. Nikki Garrett (three over) and Rachel Bailey (four over) are in danger of missing the cut on Saturday. Hedwall made a dream return from injury as she competes at her first event since the US Women&aposs Open after missing two months with a hip injury. The 23-year-old, who managed six birdies to go with a bogey at the par-four 11th hole, was pleased with her round. “I didn&apost expect anything when I started the round today and I hit a couple of really poor shots,” Hedwall said. “But I still missed pretty well so it wasn&apost a catastrophe when I missed it. I&aposm very happy with the round.” A group of six players – Australia&aposs Rebecca Artis, South Africa&aposs Stacy Lee Bregman, France&aposs Anne-Lise Caudal, Italy&aposs Stefania Croce and English pair Trish Johnson and Hannah Burke – are tied for sixth at three under. Three-time champion Laura Davies opened with a two-under 70 to be alongside 2009 winner Linda Wessberg, while European Order of Merit leader Carly Booth is at one under.