Gurugram: England’s Meghan MacLaren and Whitney Hilliers of Australia shared the lead at 5-under 67 after the first day of the Hero Women’s Indian Open even as India’s Mysore-based 16-year-old amateur Pranavi Urs nailed two late birdies to climb to Tied-10th on the leaderboard late in the evening on Thursday.
Pranavi Urs, a past winner on the domestic pro tour, even while being an amateur, picked up shots on her final two holes for a one-under par card of 71 at the DLF Golf and Country Club to be the best-placed Indian on the first day but she was four shots behind the two leaders.
Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord and England’s Liz Young were tied third at four-under 68 each while Swede Linda Wessberg (69) was fifth.
Four players, including Europe’s Solheim Cup-winning captain, Catriona Matthew, were tied-sixth on 2-under 70 and another eight players shot 71s to be Tied-10th including Pranavi.
Adding to the action on the first day was Lucknow-based 19-year-old Jyotsana Singh, a late entrant, who aced the par-3 16th. She had an interesting finish – four bogeys between 13th and 18th with an ace in between on 16th for 73. She closed with two bogeys.
MacLaren said later, “It was a bit of a mixture. I made a lot of birdies and was really, really positive. Thought I left some birdies out there, did a couple of really stupid things but I can’t really complain.
“It wasn’t very nice to get up at 4 am but for the first hour you have an empty course in front of you and really pure greens so that was nice though it got bad later, really burning hot., It just kept getting stickier and stickier out there.”
Added Hillier, “I had six birdies in total. I made a bogey on the first hole that I got back very quickly, which I was very happy with. Thought I hit it really well out there, hit it close all day and gave myself lots of birdie chances, which is good.”
“The course is in great shape, much different from what it was when I was last here in 2015. It’s changed a lot since then, it’s just really impressive; a very, very beautiful golf course, one of the best in the world I would say.”
Pranavi, teeing off in the afternoon, played a steady out-bound nine to make the turn on level par 36. Though she dropped a shot early, back to back birdies in the final two holes made sure she would be the only Indian to go under par on the opening day.
Even as Pranavi carded 71 and earned the bragging rights for being the best Indian among the 22 playing here, there was Diksha Dagar and domestic tour regulars Amandeep Drall and Tvesa Malik in Tied-18th place with 72 each.
Amandeep mixed three gained shots against three bogeys in her round, finishing off with an excellent birdie on the ninth hole, her last of the day with the pin awkwardly placed on a shelf right at the back of the green.
Diksha had an even more adventurous day in the course in which she hit five birdies but squandered those gains with three bogeys and a double, while Tvesa had a more sedate round, her two birdies cancelling out two dropped shots. In each case, the final score for the day could have been a better one.
One shot behind them on 1-over par 73 and tied in 28th place were Neha Tripathi, Gaurika Bishnoi, Astha Madan and 19-year-old tour rookie Jyotsana Singh, who recorded the only hole-in-one on Thursday.
A further shot behind at 74 in shared 42nd were amateurs Seher Atwal and Jahnavi Bakshi, along with Vani Kapoor, for whom the DLF G&CC is her home course.
For defending champion Becky Morgan and 2017 winner Camille Chevalier, though, it was a day to forget. While the Frenchwoman was 3-over 75 and tied 58th, Morgan was three shots further behind on 6-over 78 and tied 80th.