ABEREEN’S Gemma Dryburgh and Michele Thomson share a one-shot lead after a pair of five-under-par 67s in the first round of the Women’s New South Wales Open.
Thomson set the mark with six birdies – including five on the front nine – before finishing with a bogey on the short 18th hole at Dubbo Golf Club, a challenging course situated on the western banks of the Macquarie River.
Dryburgh, who went out in 34, came back in 33 with three birdies in her last six holes on a warm and sunny afternoon.
Thomson, whose best finish on the LET was second in the 2017 Hero Women’s Indian Open, said: “It was pretty steady. I hit a lot of fairways and greens and holed some really nice putts. So it was quite enjoyable.
“It was nice to feel that the driver was going to go straight, because you’re looking around about you, and there are a lot of people who are not finding the fairway. I just wanted to give myself chances and that’s what I did.
“The fairways are tough. You think you’re in the perfect spot but they will run out into the rough. I managed to find a few today, which definitely helped.
“I’d love another three five-unders. I’ve just got to keep going, keep my nose in front and let’s see what happens on Sunday.”
Michele Thomson has her father, Graham, serving as her caddie in Australia and she enjoys having him on the bag.
“Like with any father daughter relationship, he can get on my nerves occasionally. But he’s doing really well and it’s really hot here.
“He’s carrying the tour bag, so he’s doing a great job,” she said.
Dryburgh, who won the Oatlands Pro-Am on the ALPG Tour in 2017, is second on the LET’s Race to Costa Del Sol after her career-best fourth place finish in last week’s Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic Bonville.
The 26-year-old, who spent four years on a golf scholarship in New Orleans at Tulane University, could move into pole position this week – as top-ranked Swede Linnea Strom is not playing Down Under.
She made seven birdies in total, but back-to-back bogeys on the fifth and sixth checked her momentum on the front nine before bouncing back well on the last nine.
Dryburgh said: “I hit my driver quite well. I only hit eight fairways, which is quite low usually, but the fairways are very narrow here – so it was a good day off the tee.
“I made a lot of putts as well. I was seeing the breaks really well. My putting has been improving and that’s been the missing piece over the last couple of years.
“So it’s nice to see the putts going in and hopefully they continue to do so for the next three days.”
The Scottish pair are ahead of Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth and Germany’s Olivia Cowan, with Swede Julia Engström, India’s Diksha Dagar and Australian Breanna Gill a stroke further back.
Last year’s LET order of merit winner Esther Henseleit, from Germany, the USA’s Beth Allen, Lincolnshire’s Holly Clyburn, Agathe Sauzon, from France, and two-time Thailand Championship winner Atthaya Thitikul – making her first start on the LET as a professional – are tied for eighth place on two-under-par.
•For live scoring in the Women’s New South Wales Open click here.