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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Maria Hjorth sets pace with 66 in

Omega Dubai Ladies Masters

Maria Hjorth set the pace on day one at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters with a round of six under par 66, two shots better than her closest competitors.
The 36-year-old Swede, who became a first time mother to daughter Emily 10 months and nine days ago, carded an eagle, five birdies and a bogey over the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.
She birdied her first hole of the day, which was the 10th and picked up further shots at the 14th, 17th and 18th holes.
She bogeyed the par-4 first, when she had to lay up short of the green with her second shot and missed the first putt, but she recovered well with an eagle at the 451yd par-5 third hole, reducing it to a driver and a wedge to 15 feet.
“I've been driving the ball really well and if you drive the ball well; then you'll have good chances in there. I hit some good irons, as well, hitting them close, and you know, I have to take advantage of the par 5s, as well,” said Hjorth, a former Stirling University student who, over 14 seasons as a pro, has accumulated five career victories; her most recent being the 2007 Navistar LPGA Classic.
“I feel happy with my game. It's been very good for a while. It's been nice. I haven't played a tournament for a while now, a few weeks, so it's nice to go out there and play well.”
She was equal second in one of her most recent starts, at the Hana Bank KOLON Championship.
Locked in second on 68 are a trio of players: Julieta Granada from Paraguay, South Korean Amy Yang and Thailand’s Titiya Plucksataporn.
Granada posted five birdies and one bogey playing her first ever round on the course – and on her first day in Dubai.
She had arrived at around 1.30am the same morning on a flight from Florida, where she was playing the LPGA Q-School and had almost been denied boarding on route through Frankfurt. Luckily, the Ladies European Tour was able to fax the airport to fix the problem.
“I think I'm lacking a little sleep. I actually didn't feel that bad today. I felt pretty good. The jet lag didn't get to me yet. So tonight, I want to get a good night's sleep, so tomorrow we play early,” said Granada, who is joined by her mother on caddie duties.
Despite having arrived in Dubai on Sunday, three-time LET champion Yang said she was feeling jet-lagged. Her experience should help: she finished tied for fourth twice, in 2006 and 2007 and was joint seventh at the 2008. Meanwhile Plucksataporn said that she had cleared her mind and that was the secret.
Hjorth was not the only “Supermum” on the leader board, for Finland’s Minea Blomqvist, who is expecting her first child with European Tour professional golfer Roope Kakko on 5th April, finished the day tied for fifth on 69 with Virginie-Lagoutte from France, who has a 19-month old daughter. US superstar Michelle Wie also sat at three under.
The 24-year-old Blomqvist is playing in her last event for several months and enjoyed the company of her boyfriend, who was a reserve for this week’s European Tour event, but preferred to caddie.
Wie, who is accompanied by her parents B J and Bo, made a solid start to the tournament. The 20-year-old from Hawaii fired off five birdies and two bogeys.
She said: “You know, a couple of loose tee shots on the front nine, but I feel pretty good. I just hung in there and grinded it out. You know, these greens are difficult, but a pretty solid round and hopefully make a lot more birdies the next couple of rounds.
“It got really breezy: kind of reminded me of home a little bit with the weather and everything. It definitely was challenging a couple of the holes with the wind like that.”
England’s Trish Johnson finished the day in a share of eighth with Germany’s Elisabeth Esterl, Australian Anna Rawson and South Korea’s In Kyung Kim. Meanwhile defending champion Anja Monke struggled to a round of 77 for a share of 81st place as she was suffering from stomach cramps and could barely walk the last few holes.
Par: 72
66 Maria Hjorth (Swe)
68 Titiya Plucksataporn (Tha), Amy Yang (Kor), Julieta Granada (Par)
69 Michelle Wie (USA), Minea Blomqvist (Fin), Virginie Lagoutte-Clement (Fra)
70 Trish Johnson (Eng), Elisabeth Esterl (Ger), Anna Rawson (Aus), In Kyung Kim (Kor)
71 Catriona Matthew (Sco), Morgana Robbertze (Rsa), Johanna Mundy (Eng), Laura Davies (Eng), Linda Wessberg (Swe), Gwladys Nocera (Fra), Iben Tinning (Den), Karen Stupples (Eng), Marjet van der Graaff (Ned)
72 Jenni Kuosa (Fin), Paula Marti (Spa), Sophie Giquel (Fra), Anna Nordqvist (Swe), Christina Kim (USA), Rebecca Coakley (Irl), Caroline Afonso (Fra), Jade Schaeffer (Fra), Vikki Laing (Sco), Sophie Gustafson (Swe), Tania Elosegui (Spa), Maria Verchenova (Rus), Ashleigh Simon (Rsa), Anna Tybring (Swe)
73 Dana Lacey (Aus), Marta Prieto (Spa), Ursula Wikstrom (Fin), Melissa Reid (Eng), Federica Piovano (Ita), Becky Brewerton (Wal), Karen Lunn (Aus), Carin Koch (Swe), Kirsty S Taylor (Eng), Nicole Gergely (Aut), Breanne Alicia Loucks (Wal), Lynnette Brooky (Nzl)
74 Zuzana Masinova (Cro), Riikka Hakkarainen (Fin), Hazel Kavanagh (Irl), Margherita Rigon (Ita), Felicity Johnson (Eng), Maria Boden (Swe), Bo Mi Suh (Kor), Elisa Serramia (Spa), Nina Reis (Swe)
75 Holly Aitchison (Eng), Laura Cabanillas (Spa), Emma Zackrisson (Swe), Diana Luna (Ita), Frances Bondad (Aus), Lee-Anne Pace (Rsa), Kiran Matharu (Eng), Smriti Mehra (Ind), Laurette Maritz (Rsa), Becky Morgan (Wal), Lynn Kenny (Sco), Ayaka Hayashi (Jpn), Marianne Skarpnord (Nor), Lora Fairclough (Eng), Ludivine Kreutz (Fra)
76 Anna Knutsson (Swe), Julie Greciet (Fra), Georgina Simpson (Eng), Anne-Lise Caudal (Fra), Louise Stahle (Swe), Krystle Caithness (Sco), Martina Gillen (Irl), Henrietta Zuel (Eng), Sophie Walker (Eng), Louise Friberg (Swe), Emma Cabrera-Bello (Spa)
77 Stefania Croce (Ita), Christine Hallstrom (Swe), Cecilia Ekelundh (Swe), Florentyna Parker (Eng), Anja Monke (Ger), Nikki Garrett (Aus), Lotta Wahlin (Swe)
78 Clare Queen (Sco), Veronica Zorzi (Ita), Christel Boeljon (Ned)
79 Eva Steinberger (Aut), Johanna Lundberg (Swe), Lydia Hall (Wal), Julie Tvede (Den)
80 Melodie Bourdy (Fra), Jessica Ji (Kor), Samantha Head (Eng)
81 Joanne Mills (Aus), Jo Pritchard (Wal), Tara Delaney (Irl), Bettina Hauert (Ger)
82 Naela El Attar (Egy), Denise-Charlotte Becker (Ger), Barbara Genuini (Fra)
83 Carmen Alonso (Spa)
84 Vera Shimanskaya (Rus)
91 KM Juul (Den)