18 September 2014

England´s Trish Johnson credited a red hot putter as she shot a seven-under-par 65 to take the first round lead in the Tenerife Open de España Femenino at Golf Costa Adeje in the Canary Islands.

The recent Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open champion fired eight birdies and one bogey in hot and sunny conditions to end the day one stroke clear of Australian Whitney Hillier, with Scotland´s Kylie Walker and South African Stacy Lee Bregman a stroke further behind.

Johnson, the 2010 Tenerife Ladies Open champion at Buenavista Golf Club, fired three birdies on the first, fifth and sixth holes. She dropped a shot on the par-5 eighth but she gave an incredible putting performance with four birdies in a row from the 12th, followed by another birdie on the par-5 18th.

“I can´t really explain it because for the past two weeks I´ve been rubbish and Evian was embarrassing,” said Johnson, who three weeks ago became the LET´s oldest ever winner at the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open aged 48. “I think it´s just a case of when you go to some places you like the greens. Having said that, I did go on the putting green yesterday. I saw something playing at Evian, and I can´t remember who it was, but I remember thinking I like the look of that with the right hand and I just started to practice it and I felt comfortable straight away. I thought, ´This feels really good,´ and I putted very well today.”

Hillier has twice led the first round of a Ladies European Tour event this summer, in Italy and Sweden and she proved that she has the game to contend with the best as she had seven birdies and one dropped shot in a 66.

After completing her round in windier conditions in the afternoon, Hillier said: “I played well today and the only bogey I made was on three and I made birdie straight after that. I was like, ´Wow! It just clicked.´ Obviously it was windy so it was a bit of a grind and I was hitting punch shots all day and just reading the greens really well. It was just another good day out. I´m slowly learning how to deal with pressure so I hope I can finish a lot stronger and have fun.”

Bregman mixed an eagle on the eighth hole with four birdies and one bogey. She said: “I putted really well today. I hit some really good putts and hit it on the fairways and knocked it close and gave myself a lot of chances. I´ve grown up playing courses that are inland, not coastal courses, but I do have a bit of experience with grainy greens. I saw everything today and it felt right. I was in the right frame of mind. I´ve been working on my putting and it seems to be paying off.”

Walker also played in the breezier conditions and commented: “I played really solid and played 10 to 18 first and was five under for those holes. I eagled the 18th, which was nice and dropped a couple of shots on one and two but it´s just so exposed. I guess that´s going to happen in those conditions but I held on and played solid and then had a couple of birdies towards the end. At times it was a three club wind. Most of the holes were a cross wind which actually makes it a bit tougher. If it´s straight into or straight down you can go at your target but you do need to allow for the wind to shape the ball.”

Solheim Cup team mates Charley Hull and Carlota Ciganda were among the group of seven players on four under par. Ciganda had a colourful round with a double bogey on the ninth and an eagle on the 13th, with seven birdies and three bogeys on her card while Hull was disappointed after dropping a shot on her 17th hole.

Collated scores after round 1:

65 – Trish Johnson (ENG)

66 – Whitney Hillier (AUS)

67 – Stacy Lee Bregman (RSA) , Kylie Walker (SCO)

68 – Carlota Ciganda (ESP) , K

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