KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Team Dimmock (Golf Saudi 4) on Tuesday raced to the top of the leaderboard after the first round in the Saudi Ladies Team International golf tournament at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.
Captained by England’s Annabel Dimmock, the team put together an opening-day effort of 17-under par in benign conditions to open a one-shot lead over Team Nuutinen (Saudi Golf 2) in the four-team, two-to-count competition.
Sharing the stage with Team Dimmock was Sweden’s Jenny Haglund who became the first player, male or female, to post a historic hole-in-one at the testing par 72 layout on the Red Sea coast. Haglund shot her ace with a perfect swing with a 5-iron from 153 yards on the par-3 11th.
Dimmock had her friend, Charlotte Thompson, on the team with Stina Resen of Norway the third professional – and it helped that their amateur partner and Golf Saudi chief operations officer, Ed Edwards, knew the golf course, as they returned a first round total of 127 (63-64).
Team Dimmock, among the early starters, highlighted its collective 127 card with an eagle and 18 birdies overall including a 6-iron to within inches of the cup by Thompson on the iconic seaside No. 16. A bogey on 11 was their only dropped shot on the day.
“I think this format is going to suit our game. We don’t have the scorecards sometimes, but we got a lot of birdies. We just had fun out there,” Dimmock told Arab News after their round. “There was a lot of wind this morning. It was quite chilly. I think it’s come back to the normal wind now.
“Good start. I’m looking forward to having fun over the next two days. Obviously, we’re just gonna try more of the same and keep going for the birdies.
“We just appreciate being out here and having fun. It’s an amazing place. This (golf course) is one of the best outside this year. And yes, we’re just happy to be here. The sunshine. And there’s not much going on at home,” she added.
Captain Sanna Nuutinen of Finland shot to the top of the individual leaderboard on 6-under 66 while helping her team to a 128 total. With her on the team were professionals Katja Pogacar of Slovenia and Maria Palacios of Peru, with Hassan Ali Reza the fourth and amateur player.
“To be honest, I drove the ball better last week and today was a struggle off the tee,” said Nuutinen.“But I still played my best round this week and was good on the greens and made a few putts. It’s such an advantage playing this course multiple times, as you can be really precise on yardages.”
Two shots back of Nuutinen was Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson on 68, followed by a big group on 69 that included Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF champion Emily Kristine Pedersen, Dutch player Anne van Dam, and Resen.
Pedersen’s team trailed the leaders in third in a tightly bunched opening-day leaderboard.
Each team will play three rounds, where their two lowest scores per hole are carded – with amateurs receiving three-quarters of their official playing handicap. For example: Two birdies on the par 4 first hole would put that team on a score of 2-under par.