JEDDAH: New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda share the lead after the first round of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF.
Out an hour later than planned following thick morning fog on the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast, former world No. 1 Ko steamed to a five-under-par 67 to hold the solo lunchtime lead at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
Ciganda, out in the afternoon, wasted no time in closing the gap, carding six birdies en route to a five-under front nine, before a more controlled display round the course’s notoriously windy back nine.
The pair sit one ahead of Swedish pair Johanna Gustavsson and Linnea Strom, and Kim Metraux of Switzerland, who are on -4.
“I didn’t drive it very well but every time I did miss it, I wasn’t in that much trouble,” said double Major-winner Ko. “I hit it in the desert once and got pretty lucky with my lie. I think today it was a combination between being lucky when I didn’t hit it good, and my irons being really good. I made a lot of opportunities and holed a few good putts, which sharpened up my tee shots.”
On the testing setup at Royal Greens, Ko said: “The course here is really pure. It’s my first time playing here but it’s a great track with a good combination of holes. It’ll be pretty breezy out in the afternoon tomorrow, so I’ll just have to play smart, be aggressive, trust my game and see where that leaves me.”
Four-time LET tournament champion Ciganda said: “I started very well with two birdies in the first two holes, bogeyed the third, but then made some very good shots and played very solid, managing to shoot five under on the front nine.
“I really enjoyed the course although there was the wind and it was really hot. In the afternoon it gets windy so it is tricky, but the more you play the more you know what the weather is going to do, so maybe tomorrow morning it will get easier. I am excited for tomorrow and will hopefully have a good score.”
Fresh from her win at the Dubai Moonlight Classic, England’s Bronte Law brought that same form to Royal Greens with a two-under-par opening round, clinching the shot of the day with a hole-in-one on the par three third.
“I actually didn’t realize it was a hole-in-one,” said Law. “I couldn’t see it land on the green or sitting on the green. A cameraman eventually told me it was in, so yeah – it was cool, and I was pretty pleased!
“I played really well today. I had a double bogey, which came out of nowhere, but it’s windy so some shots just get away from you and that one did. Aside from that I hit the ball really well and made quite a few birdies. There’ll be a bit less wind in the morning tomorrow so that should hopefully make it a bit easier.”
Triple Major winner and 2021 AIG Open champion Anna Nordqvist sits four off the lead on one under par, Dame Laura Davies is at level par, while defending Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF champion Emily Kristine Pedersen sits at +1.