England’s Billie-Jo Smith and Cloe Frankish both carded a 66 (-6) to take the lead after the first round of the Rose Ladies Open at Brocket Hall. 

Smith had a flawless card and got off to a hot start with a birdie on the first followed by an eagle on the fifth. 

Two birdies at the turn on holes 10 and 11 set Smith off to a strong back nine where she finished by nearly eagling the 18th and instead walked away with a fourth birdie.

Speaking about her round today, Smith said: “I’m really pleased with the round today. I started off quite well and had a birdie on the first so that settled the nerves a little bit.

“I was hitting good shots into the green and on the back nine I tried to play smart as a few of the pins are tougher.

“I’m especially pleased with my iron play, that’s been a weakness just recently, so it was nice to see that change.”

It’s been a tough year for the Lincolnshire based player who has split her time between the LET and the LET Access Series this year with her strongest finish being 37th at the LETAS Link Series at Ramside Hall. 

“To have a strong finish this week would mean quite a lot as I’ve had a tough year this year with various things and injuries.

“It would be nice to finish on a bit of a high and carry that forward to the end of the year.”

Fellow Englishwoman Cloe Frankish matched Smith’s scorecard as day one closed with a fantastic birdie on the 18th

The 24-year-old carded four birdies on the front nine as well as a bogey on the third. 

At the turn, Frankish dropped a shot but recovered quickly to sink a further four birdies and finish in a tie for the lead. 

Speaking about the round, Frankish said: “I’m really pleased! My iron shots were good. I had family out there supporting me today so that helped.

“Coming into the 18th I saw Billie was on six-under and knew I had to match her. So happy I did it.”

It’s a very red and white leaderboard further down as Nottingham based amateur Esme Hamilton had the best round of the morning to finish on four-under-par.

It was a faultless round for Hamilton who carded three birdies on her front nine and one on the back to finish in third position after day one.

Speaking about the first round, the 24-year-old said: “I’m super happy with my 68 today, I stuck to my game plan, to hit the middle of the green and some putts dropped. There’s not much more that you can do.

All three of the athletes in the top three have been injured this season, with Frankish sustaining injuries to her foot in February. 

Hamilton continued: “This summer I dislocated my thumb, so my first event was the LET Access event at Ramside Hall.” 

“I emailed for an invite from the promotors and organisers, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. 

“I’m very glad to be here this week as it’s a cool event to be part of.

“It’s great as an amateur to play with the professionals. I’m enjoying it and trying to learn as much as I can about what it will be like next year and how I can plan best for it.

“Tomorrow, I want to be patient like I did today. I didn’t chase after it, I just relaxed and let it happen, so I just want to keep that mindset and if it happens it happens.”

Australia’s Amy Walsh had the most colourful scorecard of the day, starting on hole 10, Walsh double bogeyed the first before following it up with three consecutive birdies and ending her front nine with an eagle. 

With six birdies, one eagle and two double bogeys Walsh sits in tied fourth position alongside third-ranked Order of Merit player Switzerland’s Elena Moosmann. 

Further down, 12 players including three season winners sit in a tie for sixth on one-under-par.

Round two gets underway at 8:00am local time tomorrow. After which there will be a cut to the top 45 professionals and amateurs before the final round on Saturday. 

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