(Wiener-Neustadt, Austria - Thursday 11th September 2008) -- Australian Karen Lunn shot a six-under-par 66 to hold a one shot lead after the first round of the UNIQA Ladies Golf Open, presented by Raiffeisen, in Austria.
Lunn, the 1993 British Open champion, reeled off six birdies in the Ladies European Tour event at Golf Club Fohrenwald in the town of Wiener Neustadt.
Another Australian, Vicky Thomas, was one stroke off the pace on five-under-par along with Sweden’s Emma Zackrisson, the 2008 Open de Espana champion, and the German pair of Anja Monke and Denise Charlotte-Becker.
Lunn birdied six holes in total; three on the front nine (the 11th, 16th and 18th) and three on the back (the second, third and ninth).
“I played very well. I’ve been playing really well over the last few weeks and the scores haven’t been reflecting how well I’ve been playing,” said Lunn, whose tie for 10th at the Finnair Masters in Helsinki a fortnight ago was her best finish this season. “I have a good feeling on these greens. Even though I didn’t hole a lot of putts today, I’ve putted well here before. Last week in Denmark I played fantastic from tee to green and putted really badly so I’ve worked really hard the last couple of days on it. I’ve been playing well and I just played today as I have been for the last few weeks but with 28 putts instead of 38.”
Now in her 18th year as a member of the LET, Lunn has overcome injury to return to form recently. She added: “I knew it was close and I’ve felt all year that it wasn’t far away. I think that the turning point was when I shot five under in the last round at Annika’s event, the TPC. That was my first low round for a while so I took a lot of confidence away from that. Since then I have played really well and the results haven’t reflected how well I’ve been hitting the ball. It’s nice to get a good score but obviously there is a long way to go so I will just keep trying to play well.”
Monke also reached six-under-par after 11 holes but dropped shots on the fourth and fifth holes, before making birdie at the ninth.
“I had a really, really good start,” said the fifth year tour player, who worked as a medical technologist before turning professional at the end of 2003. “It is nice to be in a German speaking country. It’s nice to have a good Wiener schnitzel, which is what I like the most here!”
Welsh rookie Lydia Hall, Scotland’s Clare Queen, Italian Diana Luna, Caroline Afonso of France and Beth Allen of the United States were all two shots off the pace, on four-under-par.
Hall is sponsored by New Star Asset Management, who also sponsors the New Star Money List on the LET. The 20-year-old first year tour player said: “I just played solid golf. I was just hitting fairways, hitting good approach shots and holing putts here and there.”
The 2006 champion Sophie Gustafson was in a group of eight players on three-under-par, while defending champion Laura Davies was disappointed after opening with a 71 for a share of 26th place.
Davies hit her second shot into the water at the par-five 18th hole, but managed to salvage a par. “I had a flier on the 18th with that eight-iron. It was a perfect number but it just hit the side of the bank and went in. I made a good par in the end. It was a disappointing start and I’m going to be too far back after day one. I played a lot better than that,” she said.
photos Janos Schmidt