Great Britain and Ireland weather New Mexican storm

Great Britain and Ireland weather New Mexican storm


Heather MacRae thrived in weather more befitting her native Scotland than New Mexico to help Great Britain and Ireland end the first round of the Women’s PGA Cup well-placed to claim the trophy.

On a day that saw Mother Nature serve up a cocktail of bough-bending gusts of wind, flurries of sleet and bone-chilling temperatures, MacRae dispensed sunshine of the golfing variety.

Not least to Sarah Bennett’s team. In addition to proving the best of the day posted by any of the tournament’s 30 players, MacRae’s three-under par 70 was a key factor in Great Britain and Ireland ending the first of three negotiations of the Twin Warriors course near Albuquerque in second place.

With the best three scores from the five-strong line-up counting, MacRae was aided and abetted by Suzanne Dickens and Jess Smart in carding a team total of two-over par to trail Canada by a shot but lead defending champions USA by four.

Dickens, a member of the 2019 Great Britain and Ireland team that contested the inaugural Women’s PGA Cup in neighbouring Texas, finished on two-over after staging a spirited recovery.

Having reached the turn in regulation, she slipped to three-over after carding a trio of bogeys in four holes before arresting the slide with a birdie at the par-four 17th.

Bizarrely Smart’s round was uncannily similar. One-over after the front nine, she, too, dropped shots at the same holes that troubled Dickens before recording a birdie at the par-five 16th for a round of three over.  

Bogeys, by contrast, were an endangered species on MacRae’s card. That is until the final hole where the four-time WPGA Championship winner experienced her solitary setback.

Prior to that she reprised the form that resulted in her becoming the first female to win on the Tartan Tour earlier this year with back-to-back birdies at six and seven and 15 and 16.

Typically, MacRae was unfazed by the conditions. "I have played in weather like that," she said. "Obviously, everyone is talking about how cold it was and windy.

"The last few weeks at home have been pretty wild as well. It was kind of like knuckle down and get on with it."

Bennett, encouraged by her team's start, was more forthcoming.

“The weather was brutal,” she said. “The course is 7,000 feet above sea level and, as it’s so exposed, it can be at the mercy of the wind. As it was today. I reckon it was a three-club wind and the temperature dropped to minus two at one stage.

“But we were prepared for it both in terms of what we wore and mentally. We’d practised for this, and it showed. Given the difficult conditions, some of the shot-making skills were exceptional. What’s more the girls enjoyed the challenge.

“Heather played brilliantly, and she was just one of two players to card a sub-par total. But this is a strong team, and all the girls played their part.

“To be where we are is due to it being a team effort. It’s a fantastic start.”

Great Britain and Ireland: Sarah Bennett (captain), Suzanne Dickens, Ali Gray, Heather MacRae, Alison Nicholas MBE, Jess Smart.

Team scores: Canada +1; Great Britain and Ireland +2; USA +6; Australia & Sweden +13; South Africa +35

CLICK HERE for a full list of individual scores


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