Ladies European Tour
Sep 3rd, 2021
Williams leads the way at Creekhouse Ladies Open
Welsh star cards nine birdies in opening round to lead by two
Photography: Mark Runnacles/LET
The Welsh star fired out of the blocks in Åhus, as she picked up shots on her first four holes of the day to put herself in the early ascendency on the Swedish East coast.
Birdies on her 6th and 8th holes of the day negated a bogey on the 16th, as she reached the turn five shots to the good, before another hot streak on holes three, four and five put her at eight-under with four holes to play.
Alas, two bogeys on the way back to the clubhouse drew her back into the chasing pack as her round came to a close, but the 26-year-old was pleased with her day’s play nevertheless.
“Today was amazing, my season has been really solid - I’ve just had to be really patient for a round like today,” Williams said.
“I started really quick out the blocks with five birdies in the first six holes, and at that point, I needed to stay focus and not get ahead of myself because there’s a lot of tricky holes out there.
“I was playing really well and I felt comfortable, and everything went my way and it was a really good day out there.”
Williams has a pair of Race to Costa del Sol contenders breathing down her neck heading into day two, with Atthaya Thitikul and Steph Kyriacou both shooting 68 (-4) on the first day of action at Kristianstad Golf Club.
The duo was ranked one and two in the overall standings heading into this week’s event - with Thitikul leading the way - and they proved their class once again on Thursday, with a pair of strong performances on course.
Having been grouped together alongside Marianne Skarpnord, the competition was fierce throughout the day, with both players grabbing a birdie at the first to get the ball rolling.
Another birdie on five saw Kyriacou finish the front nine in 34 (-2), while Thitikul rolled in three more birdie putts on the third, seventh and eighth - as well as dropping a shot on the sixth - to get to the turn three shots under par.
And it looked as if the Thai talent was going to finish a shot behind Williams at the end of the day after birdies on 10 and 13, only for a missed par putt on the final hole of her round seeing her sit two behind the leader heading into Friday.
“I hit some good shots today and rolled the putts in, I made a bogey on the last but it’s fine because there’s a lot of positives to take from today,” the 2021 Race to Costa del Sol leader said.
“It’s amazing to be able to be here and be able to represent my country on the LET, and to be able to do what I do is really great.”
For Kyriacou it was a much more up and down back nine, with four birdies and two bogeys on her card - including a dropped shot on the 15th after hitting the water, but leaves her right in the mix after 18 holes.
“It was a good day, I started with a birdie and finished with a birdie so I was happy with that, I think I’m in a good spot but there’s still three days to go,” said the 2020 LET Rookie of the Year.
“It’s a new course for me, but I really like it and it’s really fitting to my eye so hopefully I can shoot a few more low ones. The wind wasn’t too high today so it made it easier than the practice rounds.”
With 25 Swedes in the field to start the day, there were plenty of players trying to make the most of home advantage in Åhus.
Two local stars shone the brightest on Thursday, with Anna Magnusson and Isabella Deilert both finishing in a tie for fourth spot after shooting a first round 69 (-3).
Deilert looked to be heading into the clubhouse within even closer contention to the leader, but a double-bogey on the par-four ninth hole to finish her day saw her slip down the rankings in the final stages of her round.
It was a different story for Magnusson, who birdied her final two holes of the day to put herself among the frontrunners after 18 holes, and fill her with confidence heading into Friday.
The 26-year-old was a regular visitor to the course as a child when she visited on family holidays, and she used that knowledge of the course to great effect in her first 18 holes of the tournament.
“I always enjoy playing here in Sweden, especially in this weather. I used to play golf here when I was younger so I was a little bit nervous this morning, but I tried to think of it as another tournament,” Magnusson said.
“I enjoyed being out there today, it was so pretty and it was perfect conditions to play. I said to myself in the morning that I needed to be patient and that’s exactly what happened.
"I drove the ball really well and it was just beautiful out there to be honest, I really enjoy walking the fairways and I holed some really good putts so it was a good day.”
Magnusson and Deilert find themselves tied with Cassandra Hall and Anne-Charlotte Mora after day one in Åhus, with all four players within three shots of the lead.
Sitting a further shot back is the Scandinavian quartet of Sanna Nuutinen, Krista Bakker, Linnea Strom and Linn Grant, while six players sit lodged on one-under-par at the end of the day’s play.