Wales’ Chloe Williams joins English duo Hayley Davis and Cloe Frankish at the top of the Amundi Czech Ladies Challenge leaderboard after the trio carded -4 rounds of 68 on the opening day at the Konopiste Resort in Bystrice. South Africa's Monique Smit joined the leaders late in the day with a flawless opening round with matching nines of 34.
Williams made a phenomenal start on the Czech course with four birdies in a bogey-free opening nine holes. The Welsh player remained steady down the back stretch to maintain her position on four-under-par which proved to be good enough for a share of the lead.
“I didn’t really do anything wrong. I just stuck to the game plan and obviously after that rain yesterday it was crucial, with approach shots into greens, to be quite smart and know where to leave it. It’s very ‘spinny’ so I did that very well and executed really well so gave myself a lot of chances.”
Williams seemed well in control with fine approach play a feature of her round. With three top-10 finishes, and a further four top-20 results, Williams has been in contention consistently io the LET Access Series this year and currently lies eighth in the Road to La Largue standings. The 24-year-old has made significant changes in recent months and credits the sacrifices made for an upturn in fortunes in the 2019 campaign.
“Definitely (my confidence is growing). I said in past interviews earlier on in the year I’ve had to do a couple of sacrifices and changing a few things. Obviously working with a new mind-coach has helped me a lot. I’ve stuck to some processes, week to week, and the outcomes have taken care of themselves. It’s starting to really come together and obviously now I can play on confidence because there’s more belief there. I think self-belief is huge for me and now I’ve got control of my game; I know where I’m at and what I want. So, just sticking to stuff in the week and doing some good reviewing, not getting ahead of myself.”
Hayley Davis also posted a four-under 68 and but for a late bogey at the seventeenth would have held the outright lead ahead of Friday’s second round.
“I played well, played solid. I hit some shots close and made the most of the par-5s – that was the big thing out there. I hit it well off the tee which I think is important out there. There a few holes, especially on the front nine, where you really need to hit your drives in the right place. My irons were good too, I hit some shots close. Playing in the afternoon, the greens were quite soft so it’s quite hard to roll it necessarily on the lines you want. But I hit some really close on the par-5s and reached comfortably in two so that helps.”
The Englishwoman has been in excellent form so far this season with four top-10 finishes to date. A highlight came at the Terre Blanche Ladies Open where the 26-year-old shot a course record as she finished second at the French event. Having performed well at the Konopiste Resort last year finishing ninth, Davis is confident that she can finally go one better and secure a first LET Access Series victory at the Czech event.
“I played well last year so came in with confidence knowing that I played well last year and I remember the course quite well. So going in, I knew that driving off the tee was important and just making sure you hit the right club as well, don’t hit the driver everywhere.”
Compatriot Cloe Frankish will also begin tomorrow’s round in a share of first place after recording a bogey-free round of 68. Frankish has recently started working with a new coach following a chance meeting at the Belfius Ladies Open and believes the change has been key to her recent stronger showings on tour.
“I pretty much hit every fairway. On the front nine I missed about six six-foot birdie putts. I played pretty well. I have a new coach and am feeling happier with myself.”
Ahead of round two, the trio will be acutely aware that a second strong showing will be required to hold onto the lead in Bystrice. Eight players, including Czech amateur Tereza Melecka who finished in a tie for 2nd last year, are just a shot adrift of the leaders and are poised to mount a challenge for the Amundi Czech Ladies Challenge crown on the crucial second day at Konopiste.