13 Sep 18
Women from 17 nations are contesting the WPGA International Challenge at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa but at the end of day one first place was occupied by Felicity Johnson from England’s second city.
Johnson, who was born in Birmingham, learned the game at Harborne Golf Club and turned pro in 2006, produced golf to match the sunshine that bathed the resort in Suffolk’s Constable country.
As a result, the winner of two Ladies European Tour events posted a five-under-par round of 67 to lead the 108-strong field in the chase for the €5,600 first prize.
Her negotiation of the Gainsborough course, however, began inauspiciously. The 31-year-old bogeyed the par-five second but that was to prove the sole blemish on her card.
A birdie followed by an eagle at the par-five fourth more than made amends and another birdie at the par three ninth left her three-under at the turn.
Two more birdies followed on the back nine, at the par-four 13th and 17th, to put her a shot clear of Manon De Roey from Belgium and four ahead of defending champion Lydia Hall (above).
De Roey, who hails from Antwerp, posted six birdies but was left to ponder what might have been had she not double-bogeyed the par-four 10th.
Nevertheless, the 26-year-old, still finished a shot clear of the LET Access Series Order of Merit leader Sweden’s Emma Nilsson.
The Swede’s lead is such that she has already secured one of the Ladies European Tour cards that go to the top five in the Order of Merit.
The destiny of the others, by contrast, is less clear cut. With this and one more event to follow, a scramble to claim the other four is in the offing.
Which is why England’s Cloe Frankish, who lies fifth, will be looking to improve on her opening round of two-over, a total that is two clear of the leading WPGA Professionals in the field, Sian Evans and former Ladies European Tour player Suzanne Dickens (above).