Date: February 22, 2013

Women’s Vic Open – Day 1 Wrap

Queensland golfer Sarah Jane Smith took advantage of the benign morning conditions to make a sensational start to the Victorian Women’s Open at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links, Barwon Heads.

Smith was out in the second group of the morning and fired seven birdies and an eagle in a bogey-free round of 65, setting a course record around the Creek course.

The 28-year-old Smith holds a one shot lead over West Australian Kristie Smith – who is no relation – with England’s Laura Davies a further shot back after a solid opening round of seven under par.

Sarah Jane Smith said she it was great to get off to a good start.

"It felt really nice out there," she said after her round.

"Obviously it was pretty calm out there in the morning, so you’ve got to take advantage of that because I think it will play a little bit different tomorrow.

"Especially with a nice early tee time, it was beautiful out there, everything about it was just perfect for golf."

Sarah Jane Smith and Davies played in the same group and the English star said having a playing partner shooting low numbers always inspires her.

"It’s always nice when the person that you’re playing with is playing well because it does drag you along as well," Davies said.

"You want to try and finish ahead of them because they’re doing so well and she (Smith) had a fantastic round."

Sarah Jane Smith said she enjoys playing alongside the legend of women’s golf.

"I’ve played with her quite a bit now, I love playing with her," she said.

"She’s a lot of fun to play with, she’s a quick player and always plays well so you know you’re always going to have a good day with her."

Davies round included a bogey on the par three sixth – the 15th hole of her round – but she quickly bounced back with an eagle on the next.

Davies said she knows the pair will face a challenge with an afternoon tee time in the second round, given that the wind picked up considerably for the later groups on the opening day.

"I think we’re going to find the difference from the course over there (Creek) and the course over there (Beach)," Davies said.

"You’re going to have to change your game a little bit between the two courses, so you need to have all parts of your game show up.

"They’re both extremely links-style (courses). It’s a shame we’re not playing the whole four (rounds) on this side (Creek course) – it’s much easier."

Kristie Smith’s round was blemished by a bogey on the par four 11th, but she’s happy to put herself into contention for the second straight week.

The 24-year-old, whose father is former touring pro Wayne Smith, said she was able to take advantage of the short par fives with her length off the tee.

"All the par fives, most of them are reachable (in two shots) so it makes for a bit of a birdie fest," Kristie Smith said.

"I think it’s a bit easier than the Beach course so I’m kind of looking forward to a bit of a test over the weekend."

South African Lee Anne Pace stands alone in fourth spot on six-under.

Pace, who turned 32 last week, was the 2010 Ladies European Tour Player of the Year and Order of Merit winner after posting five victories for the season.

Victorian amateurs Grace Lennon and teenager Su-Hyn Oh were among other notable scores from the opening round.

Lennon shot a five-under par 69 while Oh continued on her recent excellent form with a round of four-under 70.
Queensland’s Tamara Johns posted a 69 to be the best round of the afternoon.

Swede Sophie Gustafson, Canberra’s Nikki Campbell and Sarah Kemp, from NSW, also shot rounds of 70 while local hope Stacey Keating – the highest ranked player in this week’s field – made a solid start, shooting a three-under par 71.

To highlight how tough the conditions were for the afternoon groups, Swede Jacqueline Hedwall at one stage was five-under in her round before crashing on the back nine to finish with a two-over 76.

For all the up-to-date news regarding the 2013 Vic Open, check Golf Victoria’s website, and follow @VicOpenGolf on Twitter.

By: Bradley Green (Vic Open Freelancer)