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Swedish teen on top at Kenya Ladies Open

Thursday December 05 2019
julia_pix

Sweden's 18-year-old Julia Engstrom follows the flight of her tee shot during the first round of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open at Vipingo Ridge's Baobab course in Kilifi County on December 5, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY |

By LARRY NGALA

Sweden's 18-year-old Julia Engstrom produced a solid round of five under par 67 to claim a one shot lead going into Friday's second round of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open tournament at the PGA Baobab course Vipingo.

Engstrom took off well for the opening round, firing two early birdies on the third and fourth holes, parred the rest of the holes in the first nine.

She went three under par at the 11th then dropped her only shot of the day, though she rolled in two quick birdies on the 14th and 15th and wound up the day with a birdie at the par four-18th to push England's Liz Young to the second place.

"Last week in Spain I struck the ball exceptionally well and today I only hit 13 or 14 greens, but I made up and down on every green I missed. The greens I hit, I hit it close and made the birdie putts, so it was a combination of decent ball-striking and then being good around the greens," said Engstrom, who joined the tour last year.

Young, who played in the morning, had posted four under par 68 which was made up of birdies on the fourth, seventh, 11th, 15th and 17th with her only bogey coming up at the par three-eighth.

"I played really solid today and I think its the motivation I had after also playing well in Spain where I made a few stupid mistakes. It was a top 20 finish, so I was happy.

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Here some of the greens are a little bit firm, but with a practise round, I know I can play well because I managed to stick a couple close, rolled in the putts and I did have a couple of good saves on my first nine, so that helps," said Young.

Germany's Esther Hanseleit remained in third place where she was, however joined by France's Astrid Vayson de Pradenne on three under par 69. Pradenne birdied the sixth, 10th, 12th, 15th and 16th for her 69.

Behind the two was America's Cheyenne Woods with two under par 70 after making birdies on the ninth, 11th and 15th with bogey having come earlier on the sixth.

Playing in the continent for the first time, Woods stands a good chance of an African victory depending on how she plays in the second round of the Sh30 million prize tourney, with the winner on Sunday set to take home Sh5 million.

Behind Woods, a niece of the World's famous golfer Tiger Woods, is a group of seven players tied on sixth place with one under par 71.

Leading this particular group was Australia's Amy Walsh and included German amateur player Sarina Schmidt, who is here through the courtesy of Ladies European Tour (LET) organisers U. Com.

It was a tough outing for the five Kenyan players where only Naomi Wafula and Nyali based-pro Bhavi Shah managed to play below 80.

Wafula played a birdie-less six over par 78 to finish in 76th place with Nyali-based Bhavi Shah firing seven over par 79.

It was a rough day for the remaining trio of Agnes Nyakio, Mercy Nyanchama and Margaret Njoki, who posted 87, 90 and 93 to close the day at the bottom of the field of 106 players.

Friday's second round, which is expected to decide the surviving 60 players and ties, is on 7.30am, where those who played in the morning round will tee off in the afternoon and the early birds in the opening round will be tackling the tough course from 11.50am.

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