The wind played havoc in the opening round of the R2-million Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club, with only two players in the 126-players field producing sub-par rounds.
Lina Boqvist from Sweden and Austrian Sarah Schober made the most of an early start to set an uncontested clubhouse target with rounds of one-under 71.
The pair head into the second round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event with a slender one-shot advantage over three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace from South Africa, Spain’s Silvia Banon and Sweden’s Julia Engstrom.
The afternoon field was in for particular punishment from the wind, which gusted over 50 kilometres per hour at times. Best placed among the late starters were Scotland’s Carly Booth and South African Stacy Bregman, who posted battling scores of two-over 72.
Boqvist, who claimed a top-10 finish here last year, has started her season well and sits 18th on the Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit.
Former top-ranked South African amateur Kajal Mistry continued her fine run of form with a one-over-par 73 to grab a share of sixth.
More importantly for her, the GolfRSA Elite Squad player boosted her chances to make a run for the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit prize. Mistry currently second sits in third position, behind only Nobuhle Dlamini in the lead and less than 100 points behind Lejan Lewthwaite.
Dlamini from Swaziland, who won the sixth edition of the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge, carded 80, while SA Women’s Masters champion Lewthwaite signed for a battling 82.
Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai opened with 75, but will take comfort from the fact that she finished only four shots off the lead. The three-time champion failed to take advantage of the early start, or the par fives, and will need a better second round to get herself into contention for successive victories at Westlake.
(SA unless stated)
71 Lina Boqvist (Swe), Sarah Schober (Austria)
72 Lee-Anne Pace, Silvia Banon (Spain), Julia Engstrom (Swe)
73 Kelsey Macdonald (Scot), Michele Thomson (Scot), Noemi Jimenez Martin (Spain), Lydia Hall (Wales), Kajal Mistry, Astrid Vayson De Pradenne (France), Pasqualle Coffa (Neth)
74 Annabel Dimmock (Eng), Stina Resen (Nor), Emma Westin (Swe), Rachael Goodall (Eng), Carly Booth (Sco), Stacy Bregman
75 Bonita Bredenhann (Nam), Ashleigh Buhai, Annelie Sjoholm (Swe)
Photo: Lina Boqvist in action during the first round. Image: Tristan Jones / LET