Gurugram: Norwegian star Tonje Daffinrud sizzled at the finish on the front nine to take a two-shot lead on the field, while India’s Ridhima Dilawari, with barely three weeks of pro golf experience, sparkled with three birdies on last four at the tough back nine to be the top Indian in the first round of the Hero Women’s Indian Open. Both displayed the right kind of understanding of the tough Gary Player layout with some unwavering focus coupled with excellent ball striking and putting.
Daffinrud, 27, playing her fourth Hero Women's Indian Open at this course at the DLF Golf and Country club shot 6-under 66 with a hat-trick of birdies on seventh, eighth and ninth after starting from the 10th tee.
Rookie Ridhima had three birdies in four holes on tough closing stretch on the back nine to be the day’s best Indian at 3-under 69, which included four birdies and one bogey.
Daffinrud, born in a Viking town, Tonsberg, near Oslo, is hoping to emulate fellow Norwegian Emily Pedersen, who won in 2015. Daffinrud is two shots clear of another Norwegian, Marianne Skarpnord; young Thai Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, and the experienced Austrian Christine Wolf, who carded 68 each, to share the second place.
Ridhima is Tied-5th with the 2011 champion, Swedish Caroline Hedwall and England’s Florentyna Parker, all of whom shot 69 each.
Daffinrud’s 6-under 66 was the lowest first round score at the DLF since the pairs of 66s by Swede Pernilla Lindberg and Thai Nontaya Srisawang in 2011, but those cards came at the Arnold Palmer course.
The next best Indian was Gaurika Bishnoi (71) at T-11th while Tvesa Malik, Afshan Fatima and amateur Sifat Sagoo, all with 72, were T-18. India’s leading hope, Vani Kapoor disappointed with a card of 77, while Amandeep Drall, another leading pro on the local circuit, shot 76.
The 27-year-old Daffinrud, who gradated in Business and Economics from the University of Denver, turned pro in 2014. She played on LET’s Access Series as an amateur before turning pro and once she turned pro, she won back-to-back events and finished in Top-5 of Access Series Merit list to get a LET card for 2015, but has never won a title on the main Tour and has a best of T-6 in the Victorian Open in 2017.
Daffinrud has never broken par at this course and her best finish has been T-40th in 2015. She missed the cut last two years. So she was elated and said, “I’m really happy with that. I’ve never shot under par on this course before and to make quite a lot of birdies and not many mistakes was a really good day.”
Talking about the 17th, where she got a birdie, Daffinrud said, “It’s a hole where you almost want to close your eyes while you play it. I hit it close, to two metres, made the putt. I lowered my shoulders after that and went for it. There’s three more days but I had a great start today, so I’m excited for tomorrow.”
Ridhima, who played college golf in the US and turned pro soon after the Asian Games, played her first pro event on the domestic Tour three weeks ago at the same course and finished T-4th.
Ridhima said, “I was in college until recently. I was studying in US (Columbia) but decided to give golf a 100 percent because it’s what I think I want to do in life. I want to give a couple of years only to golf and see how it goes; not balancing anything currently. Just playing golf.”
Ridhima also revealed, “Until I turned pro, I didn't play here at all. DGC is my home club. Because DLF allows all women professionals to play and practice here, so over the past three weeks I have been coming here more often.”
In the morning, Thailand’s Pannarat shot a bogey-free four-under-par 68 in hot and humid conditions to take a two shot clubhouse lead. The 20-year-old from Roi Et in Northeast Thailand, has been a pro on the LPGA for three years and she knocked down four birdies without any bogeys on her tournament debut.
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Updated Date: Oct 18, 2018 20:20:58 IST