French rookie Manon Mollé and Silvia Bañon from Spain fired course record five-under par 66s in the first round of the Women’s New South Wales Open on Thursday to share the lead at Coffs Harbour Golf Club.
Mollé carded a bogey and six birdies in hot and sunny weather to set the target before Bañon fired five birdies in overcast and blustery conditions later in the afternoon.
Both young Europeans said that the prospect of playing in next year’s Solheim Cup in Scotland is providing major motivation.
Mollé was a member of Europe’s 2010 Junior Ryder Cup team that played against a United States side including Jordan Speith and Justin Thomas at Gleneagles and she would love to return to compete for Europe as a professional.
“It would mean so much to me,” said the 23-year-old, who was born in France, raised in Reunion Island and lives in Morocco. “As an amateur, I was a good player, but not awesome. Since Lalla Aicha Tour School I have been working extremely hard.”
Bañon, 25, from Alicante, is a second-year professional who spent most of her time on the Santander Golf Tour in Spain in 2017, winning the circuit’s order of merit. A fan of Severiano Ballesteros, she hopes to follow in his footsteps in representing Europe and has watched all his YouTube videos.
She said: “I’ve read all the books about Seve. He had a very strong mind for golf and I love how he played on the course. I also like watching Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm.”
Dreher also played in the more difficult afternoon conditions and reeled off seven birdies but dropped three shots over the 17th and 18th holes. She is enjoying the challenge of playing on a different Australian course each week and said: “I feel like you really learn to play well in the wind in Australia; we’ve had windy conditions at each of the courses and it helps to develop you as a player.
“Even though we’re only 11km from Bonville, you can’t even compare it, as the layout and the greens here at Coffs Harbour are completely different, with less grain. It’s obviously way flatter, so they are two completely different courses. Last week I had a bit of trouble on the greens, but I think this week’s course is great.”
Hot on her heels are Camilla Lennarth from Sweden, Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras of Thailand and US-based Queenslander Emily McLennan on three-under-par. New South Welshwoman Sarah Kemp and Olivia Cowan from Germany are a stroke back on two-under-par.
There are seven further players tied for ninth on one-under-par and 15 sub-par rounds on the first day. The second round commences at 7am local time on Friday and the leaders, Bañon and Mollé, will start their rounds at 7.16am and 1.06pm respectively.