WELLINGTON: Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg struggled in difficult conditions on Thursday when she became the first woman golfer to compete at the New Zealand Open as Korean teenager Kim Joo-hyung stormed to the early lead.
Lindberg, who won her first major at the 2018 ANA Inspiration, shot a nine-over par 80 in strong winds in the Asian Tour events at the Millbrook Resort course in Queenstown and finished the first round in a two-way tie for 152nd in the 156-player field.
But the 33-year-old was on track to meet her tournament goal to “beat just one man”, ending the day ahead of three, including Australian veteran Brett Rumford.
Talented youngster Kim, 17, who became the second-youngest winner on the Asian Tour at the Panasonic Open in India last year, shot a classy seven-under par 64 at Millbrook to top the first-day leaderboard.
The first two rounds are played over two courses with Australian Brad Kennedy, who played the neighbouring Hills course, lying a stroke behind on six-under in share of second with Ben Eccles and recent Hong Kong Open winner Wade Ormsby who were both played Millbrook. The pre-tournament favourite, New Zealand’s world number 125 Ryan Fox, was tied 17th at two-under par after making the long journey to his home open from last week’s WGC-Mexico Championship where he finished tied 29th behind winner Patrick Reed.
Former US Open winners Geoff Ogilvy and Michael Campbell are among a logjam of 23 players in a share of 60th place after both shooting one-under par.
The field play alternate rounds over the first two days at each of the Millbrook Resort and The Hills courses.
The top 60 players and ties after the halfway cut will play both the third and fourth rounds at Millbrook. — AFP