Sweden’s Annelie Sjoholm holds the outright lead after round one of the Neuchatel Ladies Championship, after carding an impressive one-over-par 72, as strong winds made scoring extremely difficult on the Swiss course. The second-year pro struggled on the front nine, coming in four-over at the turn, but turned it around in the last four holes carding consecutive birdies on 15, 16 and 17.
"I finished really strong. The last 4 holes I played 3-under. I finally started making some putts and it was really nice to finish so strong after the beginning making some stupid bogeys. I tried to just focus on my game and take one shot at a time because it's tough conditions out there - just pick a target and trust it."
A shot further back on 2-over are England’s Brogan Townend and Moroccan amateur Lina Balmati. Both players handed in a colourful scorecard, with a mixture of birdies and bogeys throughout, but were able to hold their nerve in the cold winds to card a solid score where many others struggled to cope. The 22-year-old Belmati put simply when reflecting on her strong round:
“"I didn't miss a lot of fairways and I got a lot of greens... I think I was mostly having fun. It was a bit windy, but I managed to get most of the greens. I managed to do my best and save some pars in the end and I'm happy with that score."
The youngster has recently completed a business management degree and is now planning to turn her sole focus to golf before hopefully turning pro in the next two years.
Among a group of players on three-under is Wales’ Chloe Williams. Lying tenth in the Road to LaLargue after the opening events of the LET Access Series, Williams displayed the form that has led to her strong start to the season.
“All round it was a big test out there, I enjoyed it. You've really got to have your ball under control. On the greens is the big thing; a lot on undulations and obviously counting in the wind so mentally it was tough because it was a long graft out there."
Coached by father Paul, Williams puts a lot of her improvement down to working with a new psychologist at Wales Golf. Undoubtedly extremely talented, Williams feels her improved mental strength and ability to ‘grind out’ scores, alongside putting in the hard yards off the course, has led to her improvements in 2019. With today’s round highlighted as a prime example:
"I wouldn't say I played my best but I just had to grind it out... you just had to keep going, I made some great recovery shots!"
Another player very much in the running is VP Bank Ladies Open champion Elena Moosmann. The Swiss amateur shone a fortnight ago to claim her maiden LETAS crown. The 17-year-old sensation carded a four-over 75, including a stunning eagle at the par-5 fifth, to lie firmly in the top-10 on the leaderboard. Despite unfamiliar windy conditions, home favourite Moosmann was happy with her round:
"It was nice conditions, but the wind was really strong to putt. In England it's like this but in Switzerland not so much!”
Sjoholm and the rest of the leading players on the opening day at the Neuchatel Golf & Country Club will be keeping a keen eye on the teenage amateur heading into round two. Having survived thunderstorms to secure victory in Gams last time out, Moosmann has shown she has the game to cope when the going gets tough and is sure to give the leaders something to think as the tournament moves into day two.
With winds expected to drop for tomorrow’s play, the players will hope for more scoring opportunities in the second round on the picturesque course. With the cut currently projected at +13, there will be a lot of players looking to make a surge up the leaderboard in the more favourable conditions to make the draw for the final day’s play on Friday.