England’s Charlotte Leathem leads the way after the opening round of the Santander Golf Tour LETAS Valencia. The 24-year-old didn’t drop a shot on the Spanish course with five birdies in a five-under-par round of 67 at the Club de Golf Escorpion.
Leathem made a magnificent start to her round, rolling in a long putt for birdie at the second. Buoyed by a near-perfect opening, the Englishwoman added a further three birdies on the front nine to reach the halfway mark in 33 on –4. The back nine was a steadier affair with a birdie on the par-4 11th before a series of pars saw Leathem take the clubhouse lead, which became the outright lead at close of play.
Throughout the round, Leathem looked very confident and assured where others struggled on a warm and blustery day in the south of Spain. Reflecting on her opening day’s play, Leathem was pleased with her ability to keep it straight and minimise the effect of the wind, but also felt there is more to come in her game, having only played the back nine for the first time today:
“It’s not playing easy. The wind picks up at stages. I think it’s quite tight in places, but I hit a lot of fairways so gave myself a lot of chances - I think I hit sixteen greens. I rolled a good putt in on the second, a bit of a tricky one, so that was nice to get off to a good start and then just steady away from there. I didn’t get the chance to play the back nine yesterday, so I didn’t have many chances out there and it was a bit tricky on the greens. But it was good, a good start to the week – you take it!”
Leathem is playing in the LET Access Series for the first time in 2019 and is already making waves with top-20 finishes at Lavaux and Montauban and recently secured a top-five finish at the Skafto Ladies Open in June. With this event attracting a large field made up of players from the LET Access Series and host tour the Santander Tour, the young English player’s lead felt even more rewarding:
“It makes it more exciting being in the lead currently. There’s a lot of players out there, it’s a big field. So, you never know what happens but it’s a good place to be. I just need to hole a few putts and make the right decisions again and see what happens.”
A shot behind the round one leader on –4 are Belgium’s Manon De Roey and experienced Spaniard Carmen Alonso.
De Roey shone in the Saint-Malo Golf Mixed Open a couple of weeks ago, finishing as the highest placed woman in the mixed event with a stunning third place finish in Brittany. She continued her rich vein of form in the opening round in Valencia with two eagles contributing to a fine round of 68.
The Belgian currently lies ninth in the Road to La Largue standings with top-10 finishes at the Terre Blanche Ladies Open and VP Bank Ladies Open, along with her memorable performance in the groundbreaking event in France last time out.
Spain’s Alonso sits alongside De Roey after also posting an impressive 68 on the Club de Golf Escorpion course. Alonso secured a first victory on the LET Access Series last year taking the Axa Czech Ladies Challenge crown, and hinted at a return to the tournament winning form shown on the tour in 2018.
The Spaniard, who celebrated her 35th birthday on Monday, carded six birdies in total with two coming in succession at thirteen and fourteen, which gave Alonso a share of the lead on –5. Sadly, for the Spanish player a bogey at the tricky final hole cost her a share of the overnight lead but the 15-year-professional will remain content with her round having played some of her finest golf in the home event.
The first players tee-off at 8.10am tomorrow with conditions again expected to challenge the players but good golf should offer the chance to post a low score for those in the chasing pack heading into the critical second day of the Santander Golf Tour LETAS Valencia.