Ladies European Tour
Aug 21st, 2020
Olson leads the way at Royal Troon
As Catriona Matthew rolls back the years
Words: GolfPunk Photography: R&A
At a blustery Royal Troon, with gusts nearing 30 mph for the international field, Olson emerged late in the day to reach four-under-par after an excellent 67 at the first women’s Major of the year.
Olson recorded five birdies and just one dropped shot in a fine display of links golf. The 28-year-old, who has posted two top-10 finishes in the Majors, holds a three-stroke lead over fellow American Marina Alex and Germany’s Sophia Popov.
“I mean, the conditions out there honestly were so tough. I've said that was the best ball-striking day of my life. I kept the trajectory on every shot what I wanted. My start lines were really good, which was especially important those first nine holes going out into the wind, and my distance control was really good. Where I grew up in North Dakota it gets extremely windy, and so I grew up playing the ball very low. I think that served me very well over here.” said Olson after her impressive round.
World number 28 Alex, who tied ninth at the Women’s Open in 2014, recovered from a double-bogey at the sixth for her 70. Popov, 27, qualified for the championship through the Marathon Classic just two weeks ago, tied second on the Symetra Tour in Arizona last week and only arrived in Scotland on Tuesday. Two birdies in her last three holes propelled her into contention.
The 2009 champion, Matthew, is in a large group of players on level par (71) after three birdies in her closing four holes.
Well versed in testing links conditions at her North Berwick home, Matthew shrugged off indifferent form to thrive with a new putting grip and lead home hopes. It was impressive from the 50-year-old given she last played Royal Troon competitively as an amateur in 1994.
From the first group of the day, Canadian Alena Sharp also finished on level par. With a grandmother and an uncle born in Scotland, the 39-year-old drew on her heritage as she chases a first Major title.
World number four Nelly Korda battled hard for a one-over-par 72, helped by an eagle at the par-5 16th, the same total as New Zealand’s Lydia Ko. American Lizette Salas and the 2018 Women’s Open champion Georgia Hall are a shot further back after 73s.
Dame Laura Davies, having struck the opening tee shot to mark her 40th appearance in the event, slipped to a nine-over-par 80. Other leading names also found the Ayrshire links a stiff test in the high winds, with 2013 champion Stacy Lewis and England’s Charley Hull among those to post 76s. Lexi Thompson (78), Bronte Law (80), Carly Booth (80) and Celine Boutier (81) also struggled.