Rookie Mireira Prat of Spain and Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg seized the early initiative, shooting identical bogey-free rounds of 5-under 67 as defending champion Shanshan Feng suffered a disappointing opening round in the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters on Wednesday.
Fresh from winning the LPGA Tour championship, World number four Feng mixed five bogeys with one birdie her four-over 76. World number three Stacy Lewis of the US, who is making her first appearance in Dubai, kept herself in the frame with a 2-under 70 along with England’s great Laura Davies on a day when early fog led to a 30-minute delay to the start of the play.
It was young Prat and the more experienced Lindberg who gave the most impressive performances. Prat, 24, from Barcelona, won the LET Access Series Order of Merit last week earning her full card for the 2014 LET and feels relaxed, as though her first visit to Dubai is a prize.
The second year LET member had five birdies and said: “I putted really well. I think I missed three shots and I recovered very well to make par so I’m very happy.
“I know I have my full card for next year and it was my goal for this year, so I think there is no pressure here and maybe that’s the key. I was very confident at the start and played very well and was relaxed. It’s the first day of a four day tournament so I’m going to keep focused and do things like I did today and we’ll see what happens.”
Rated as one of the favourites, Lewis drove the ball well, but felt whatever she did right was derailed once she got on the greens. “It was a bit frustrating out there. I hit the ball well, but just couldn’t make any putts. I think the longest putt I made was six or seven feet. My speed was a little off on the greens.
“I feel like the course is playing hard enough that no-one’s going to run away and shoot a great score. The greens are firm and fast and you’ve got to play smart. I feel like I’m still in it. We’ve got three more days and if I can make some putts I’ll be there.”