Sunday, December 16, 2018

Leona Maguire in the mix at Lalla Aicha Tour
School Finals at Marrakesh, Morocco
Marrakesh, December 16: Astha Madan from India fired a flawless seven-under-par 65 to take a one-stroke lead on the opening day of the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School finals in Morocco.
The 22-year-old from Gurgaon had a clean score card featuring two birdies on the front nine and five on the back at Amelkis Golf Club in Marrakesh, to sit one clear of Lauren Horsford from England.
Spain’s Maria Hernandez, Ireland’s Leona Maguire, English pair Sian Evans and Dulcie Sverdloff, Frenchwoman Manon Gidali and Esther Henseleit from Germany are all on four-under-par in the chase to earn playing rights on tour next season.
Madan didn’t even know that she was bogey-free until after the round and thought that her score would have been “around five-under.”
It happened to be her best ever 18-hole score and the Sacramento State University graduate, who turned professional in July, said afterwards:
 “I’m really thrilled with my round. I started on the first hole and hit it pretty close and made birdie there. I made a really long one on seven, from 66 feet, to be precise and then I sank a few putts on the back nine, too. I’m hoping to give Aditi some competition out there next year!”
When asked what it would mean to her to qualify for the LET, she said: “Everything. This is what I came for, so it would be great to get there.”
A total of 115 players are battling it out over five rounds. They play at both Amelkis Golf Club and Palm Golf Ourika twice before playing the final round at Amelkis Golf Club on Thursday. Following 90 holes, the leading five players will earn Category 5c membership of the LET, meaning that they will gain entry into most tournaments, while those in positions 6-25 will earn membership in Category 8. Players who make the cut but finish in positions 26 or lower may still join the LET in Category 9b.
Christmas comes early for Lauren Horsford
Lauren Horsford made a superb start with a six-under-par 66 in the opening round at the finals of Lalla Aicha Tour School in Marrakesh, Morocco.
She took the early clubhouse lead after making eight birdies and two bogeys in warm and sunny conditions at Amelkis Golf Club.
The 21-year-old Londoner could have double cause for celebration this Christmas if she regains her Ladies European Tour card.  
She is among the Wimbledon Park Golf Club members set to share a £64m windfall after a vote to sell the club to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, the venue of the Wimbledon Championships.
She, along with fellow members, including celebrities Piers Morgan and Ant and Dec, will receive an £85,000 windfall from the proceeds of the sale, which could be a huge help in the future.
Horsford has mixed feelings about the sale of the club, where she has been a member since the age of 10, although is pleased that the 18-hole golf course will continue to operate until at least 31 December 2021.
Speaking after her first round on Sunday, she said: “It is a shame, because that’s the only place I’ve played golf. I started playing golf there and I’ve been there 11 years now. Obviously, to have the money is massive for me, as well, but then you still have to find somewhere else to join.
My sister’s a member there, my dad’s a member there, and we always play golf together, so if we join somewhere else, we will have to move together. I think it’s a shame because you know it’s going to be built on, and it’s grassland at the moment.
You see the amount of effort that the greenkeepers put in to make it what it is and it will be dug up, but that’s just the way it is. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing, but the fact that I can play there for another three years, maybe four years with nine holes, in that time, anything can happen.”
Horsford played her rookie year on the Ladies European Tour in 2017 but lost her card last year and has been working behind the bar at The Wisley Golf Club, but has concentrated on fine-tuning her game for Tour School since June.
“I really hope to regain my full card. We’ll see how it goes. I’ve had a good start and hopefully I’ll play on the LET again next year,” she said.
“I had a five-under here in the first round two years ago, when I got my card. I’ve played here four years in a row now, so I do know the course. It’s very scoreable and the greens are so good that if you hit putts at the hole, they should go in, but they are sneaky quick and if you hit it too far they will trickle past.
“I holed a couple of long putts, which were a bit of a shock! One was 30 feet, on the first, which was my 10th hole, and a 20-footer on the third, which was my 12th hole. They obviously helped and the birdies just came. I made a nice birdie on my last, the ninth, a par-5 which was just about reachable and I wasn’t on the green, but it was a good feeling to finish the round that way.”

SCOTS' SCORES
par 72
71 Rachael Taylor (T25)
73 Alison Muirhead (T43)
74 Laura Murray, Heather Stirling, Jane Turner (T54)
75 Hannah McCookl, Vikki Laing (T68)

Field of 115 players

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