Former champion Georgia Hall felt her conservative approach paid dividends as she successfully battled tough conditions on the opening day of the AIG Women’s Open.
Hall, who claimed the title at Royal Lytham in 2018, recovered from three over par after five holes to card a first round of 73 as winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour made scoring extremely difficult at Royal Troon.
At two over par Hall was just two shots off the early clubhouse target set by Canada’s Alena Sharp, who was in the opening group out at 6.30am, hitting her first shot out of bounds but recovering superbly to shoot a level-par 71.
Dame Laura Davies, who hit the opening tee shot to mark her 40th appearance in the event, birdied three of the last six holes but could still only return a nine-over-par score of 80.
“Some holes I could barely stand up, it was so windy all the way round but especially at the start,” Hall told Sky Sports. “I’m pretty happy with how I played today.
“I played quite conservative with my approach, I just know that whatever happens I’ve got to keep going and keep grinding because you never know what’s going to happen on a links course and the conditions couldn’t be much tougher I don’t think.
“I was hitting a lot of three irons off the tee, I think I hit driver twice the whole round. I want to stay out of all the fairway bunkers and feel that my irons into the greens are fairly strong so want to rely on that a bit more.
“I played quite conservative at Lytham and tried to stay out of the bunkers and that was my aim for today. When you go in a pot bunker you are literally chipping out and then it puts pressure on your third shot. I’d much rather have a greenside bunker shot to try and save par.”
Sharp recovered from her opening double bogey with birdies on the fourth and fifth, but dropped four shots in the next six holes before taking advantage of the easier back nine with birdies on the 11th, 13th, 16th and 18th.
And the Phoenix-based 39-year-old revealed she had extra reason to enjoy her efforts thanks to her Scottish roots.
“I was so ecstatic to see that we were going to get to play Royal Troon and it wasn’t going to get cancelled,” Sharp said. “We are lucky we get to play some of these amazing courses.
“My grandmother was born in Greenock and my uncle was born in Glasgow. I feel like they were watching over me today and giving me a little help out there.”