Thursday, June 21, 2018

 
Big hitter Van Dam powers into share of
 
lead in Thailand with a five-under 67
 
By BETHAN CUTLER
Anne Van Dam of the Netherlands produced a brilliant five-under-par 67 in hot and humid conditions to share the lead with local player Aunchisa Utama on day one of the Ladies European Thailand Championship.
The 22-year-old Dutchwoman made a flying start with four straight birdies from the 11th – her second hole – and although she double bogeyed the par-4 15th, the 2016 Xiamen International Ladies Open champion immediately recovered with a pair of birdies on the 16th and 18th to make the turn in four-under.
She then scored another birdie at the par-4 third to set the pace at five-under at Phoenix Gold Golf and Country Club in Pattaya.
“I’m working on some different things in my swing, so I was just focusing on that and not so much the score,” said the longest hitter on tour.
“I’ve been hitting my driver a lot better, as I’ve been changing a few things with my coach to hit them a bit higher and a straighter ball flight. I hit some really good ones today.”
Her best came on the 469-yard par-5 seventh, where she hit a drive of 315 yards and she added:
“I like the seventh hole. I didn’t birdie it today, but it’s a good risk, reward hole. There are a lot of good holes on this course. I can reach all the par fives if I pitch it on the fairway. From the rough, it’s too tough to get out of and stop it on the green.
“I was really stupid on 15, because I hit the perfect tee shot but had completely the wrong yardage, so I hit it straight into a bush, way too far and had a really unlucky lie. I didn’t hit a bad shot today, just one really good shot where I didn’t think about it that well. It was a bit of a shame, but I’m happy with how I hit back from that double to get right into it.”
It looked as though Van Dam’s morning lead would remain all day until Utama got to work on her back nine. Five birdies on the way home ensured that the 27-year-old from Lopburi (the same home town as Thongchai Jaidee), would be sharing the lead as the first day came to an end.
Utama, who won one Thai LPGA tournament five years ago, credited a hot putter and said: “I was lucky to hole some long putts.”
In contrast to last year, when only six players scored under par and the winning score was five-under-par, there were plenty of birdies on the leader board and the tournament remains wide open.
England’s Gabriella Cowley and Australian Whitney Hillier, whose mother is from Thailand, are both only one shot adrift with Beth Allen from the United States and Maria Palacios from Spain both on three-under.
Cowley said: “I had three birdies on the spin on 11, 12 and 13 and I played really solid the rest of the round. If you hit your driver well, you can give yourself a lot of chances here. The greens are difficult, some stop quickly and some release, so it all about judging it the best you can and giving yourself a decent putt.”
Hillier said: “I played really solid. I hit 12 fairways and actually only 13 greens, but the misses were only just off the green and I left myself in good positions. I made my birdie opportunities where I could. I’m pretty happy today!”

LEADING FIRST ROUND SCORES
Par 72
1 Anne Van Dam NED 67 -5 F
1 Aunchisa Utama THA 67 -5 F
3 Gabriella Cowley ENG 68 -4 F
3 Whitney Hillier AUS 68 -4 F
5 Maria Palacios ESP 69 -3 F
5 Beth Allen USA 69 -3 F
7 Chonlada Chayanun THA 70 -2 F
7 Eleanor Givens ENG 70 -2 F
7 Pauline Del Rosario PHI 70 -2 F
7 Kanyalak Preedasuttijit THA 70 -2 F
7 Lydia Hall WAL 70 -2 F
7 Sanna Nuutinen FIN 70 -2 F
13 Valdis Thora Jonsdottir ISL 71 -1 F
13 Astrid Vayson De Pradenne FRA 71 -1 F
13 Jackie Chulya THA 71 -1 F
13 Arpichaya Yubol THA 71 -1 F
13 Trichat Cheenglab THA 71 -1 F
13 Ornnicha Konsunthea THA 71 -1 F
13 Julia Engstrom SWE 71 -1 F
13 Supamas Sangchan THA 71 -1 F
13 Mireia Prat ESP 71 -1 F
13 Onkanok Soisuwan THA 71 -1 F
13 Ploychompoo Wirairungrueng THA 71 -1 F
SELECTED SCORES
T24 Vikki Laing SCO 72 Par F
T24 Holly Clyburn ENG 72 Par F
T46 Hannah Burke ENG 73 +1 F
T46 Florentyna Parker ENG 73 +1 F
T46 Michele Thomson SCO 73 +1 F
T64 Amy Boulden WAL 74 +2 F
T64 Becky Brewerton WAL 74 +2 F
T64 Felicity Johnson ENG 74 +2 F
T64 Charlotte Thompson ENG 74 +2 F
T80 Kylie Henry SCO 75 +3 F
T80 Inci Mehmet ENG 75 +3 F
T105 Liz Young ENG 77 +5 F
T114 Kelsey Macdonald SCO 78 +6 F
125 Kiran Matharu ENG 83 +11 F

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