Sweden’s Rebecca Sorensen carded a sparkling six-under-par 66 at Golf Al Maaden and swept to the top of the leader board on the opening day of the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifying in Marrakech, Morocco.
After a calm and sunny day, the 27-year-old from Grabo holds a one stroke advantage over three other players: Tessa Teachman from the United States, Norwegian Caroline Martens and Austrian amateur Nina Muehl.
Italian Sophie Sandolo, Denmark’s Julie Tvede and Moroccan Maha Haddioui shot rounds of 68, followed by Britons Heather Macrae, Anna Scott and Hannah Ralph on 69.
Sorensen, a rookie on the LET this year who made three cuts from seven appearances, birdied the second and bogeyed the sixth to make the turn in level par but picked up six birdies on Al Maaden’s back nine to put herself in pole position to secure a full card and improve her Tour status from 2013.
Teachman was the only player in the top ten positions who played on the longer Samanah Golf Course and the 24-year-old from Baton Rouge in Louisiana posted five birdies, including four on the back nine.
“The course is in amazing condition and the greens are true and quick. I’m very impressed by everything around here. It’s been great,” said the graduate of Louisiana State University.
“This is my first time across the Atlantic. I’ve played in China in 2011 when we played the World University Games and that was my first international trip and then I’ve crossed the Atlantic now. I’ve really enjoyed it; it’s been great. I want to see as much of the world as I can and play golf.
“I just hit it really well and hit it close a lot, which was very nice, stress free. I made a lot of putts and missed a couple still. There are a lot of opportunities out there. I played last week in the pre-qualifier in Rabat and it was tight and tough. It’s very nice to come here and you are rewarded for your good shots. It’s a little bit more breathing room out there. I was playing well in Rabat but scores were high and it’s nice to come here and finally get some scores under par.”
The next best scores on the Samanah Course were 70s, recorded by Spain’s Virginia Espejo and Swedish duo Josefin Janson and Isabella Ramsay. They share 11th position with New Zealand’s Cathryn Bristow, South African Kim Williams and Germany’s Nina Holleder, who played their first rounds on the Al Maaden Course.
Espejo’s score was particularly impressive considering that she played through injury. “The bottom of my foot is inflamed and I have a sprained ankle which means no practice, so I won’t get tired!” said the LET rookie from Madrid.
“I hit it alright off the tee, because it’s an open course, my shots into the greens were awful. I missed so many greens but then I made so many putts, I think I had under 25 putts, it was crazy. My putting was the best part of my game by far but it’s very tough when you have very short putts to aim outside of the hole. On a straight putt you don’t believe it and try to find breaks that aren’t there. I trusted the lines that I read and just hit the putts where I thought they were going to go.”
Janson also considered the greens as Samanah’s greatest defence: “I started off really well and kept the birdies coming but made a couple of bogeys at the end. I played really solid and hit the ball good. The greens are perfect and tough if you are too far from the pin because they are very slopey but I put a good speed on them.”
The field will play the Samanah and Al Maaden courses alternately for the first four rounds, followed by a cut to the leading 60 players and ties. The final round will be played at Samanah Golf Club. At the end of 90 holes on Wednesday, the top 30 players and ties from a field of 95 will earn their full cards for the 2014 Ladies European Tour (in category 8a).
photo Getty Images
photo Getty Images
Courtois, Macgregor, and Ístling Advance