Lauren Holmey from the Netherlands birdied her last hole on Wednesday to move to six-under-par 67 and a one-stroke lead in the first round of the €300,000 Joburg Ladies Open at Modderfontein Golf Club.
Playing in just her second tournament on the Ladies European Tour – this one co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Ladies Tour – the 20-year-old overcame three bogeys with a flurry of nine birdies to edge one clear of Alice Hewson of England and Denmark’s Smilla Tarning Soenderby, who were on five under in a share of second.
That flurry of birdies came after she started her round on the 10th with a bogey.
She regained that stroke with a birdie on 12, but then she made five birdies in a row from the 15th.
“I think I have to thank my father, who was on the bag, for that,” said Holmey. “It was a really good day on the greens.
“The putts were all pretty much within 20 feet, as a result of good second shots to the green. I picked my spots on the greens quite well too, so I had easy uphill putts with not too much break. It was the first time I got so many birdies in a row.”
She is relishing the adventure of starting her rookie season in Africa.
“I’m loving every moment,” she said. “I played in Morocco before this, so this is my second tournament and I’m just enjoying every moment. It’s just a lot of fun being a rookie on the LET.
“Tomorrow, I just have to keep playing like I did today. I have my dad and my mom with me, so I have my own little team. It’s someone who is always there for me. He’s been a great support to me, and we’ve been a great team for the past year now,” she added.
Hewson, the winner of the Investec South African Women’s Open in 2020 in her rookie season on the Ladies European Tour, finished last year’s Joburg Ladies Open in a share of third, and she went bogey-free around Modderfontein as she converted a hot start to a five-under-par 68.
“I birdied four of my first five holes,” said Hewson. “Hit the first in two which is always nice, and I had a nice easy two-putt. I hit it nice and tight into two and three. I just missed on four, unfortunately, but again, hit five in two for a two-putt birdie. And then the putter cooled down a bit for the rest of the round, but that’s OK.
“Had to stay patient on the back nine which is a bit trickier than the front nine. No bogeys on the card. I didn’t hit every shot perfectly today, did not hit everything as planned. I had a little luck and didn’t end up behind any trees or anything like that, which is always good. Plotted my way around the course really nicely.”
Her round is a continuation of what has been a solid start on the 2023 Ladies European Tour season, in which she is currently lying fourth on the Race to Costa del Sol. She finished in a share of fourth in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open and had top-20 finishes in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco and the Saudi Ladies International.
She didn’t play South Africa in 2021, but she added a share of 11th in the Investec South African Women’s Open to her third at Modderfontein last year in the Joburg Ladies Open.
The leading South African after the first round was the evergreen Tandi McCallum, in a share of fourth after her opening four-under-par 69 which she made despite a double-bogey and two bogeys. Next best were Nicole Garcia, the impressive young rookie Kaleigh Telfer and Lora Assad, all on two under par.