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Europeans make strong start at Australian Women's Open

Tourism

A bogey-free 65 has helped English player Jodi Ewart Shadoff to a share of the lead after the first round of the LPGA sanctioned Women’s Australian Open in Adelaide.

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The world No. 59 made six birdies in her first 10- holes to set up the 7-under total in perfect early morning conditions at The Grange Golf Club.

Ewart Shadoff shares the lead with Chinese Taipei golfer Wei-Ling Hsu who stormed home in the late afternoon with five back nine birdies in her 65.

Swede Madelene Sagstrom is in a tie for third with England’s Bronte Law and five-time Australian Open champion Karrie Webb on 5-under, a shot clear of a host of players on 4-under including Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Thai Moriya Jutanugarn.

Ewart Shadoff came into the week in good form after finishing in a tie for 8th at the LPGA sanctioned Vic Open last week.

The 31-year-old said she was feeling confident with her ball striking at the moment.

“I shot four birdies in a row right in the middle of my round, so I holed three or four six‑footers for birdie, and overall I just hit the ball well and I putted well,” Ewart Shadoff said.

“Last week I didn’t putt well, especially on my last day, so I worked a little bit this week on my putting and it seems to have paid off.

“I think this probably is my best round in an Aussie Open – I actually really love this course.”

Meantime, Edinburgh-based American Beth Allen, pictured above, will return to the Ladies European Tour full-time this year after two seasons on the LPGA.

Allen, who won her way into this week’s Australian Open field through a qualifying event on Tuesday, topped the LET Order of Merit in 2016 but struggled in 2017 and 2018 on the LPGA before eventually losing her card last season.

However, she said she had been working with Manchester-based mental coach Karl Morris since September, which was starting to pay off.

“That’s been going well and my putting’s improving, which is what was holding me back in the past 18 months so I feel like things are close to coming together again,” Allen said.

The 37-year-old will stay on in Australia to play three LET events in the next four weeks before returning home to Edinburgh.

Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, below, will use this week’s Women’s Australian Open to assess the early season form of Europe’s top players ahead of the September showdown with the United States at Gleneagles.

Nine of the 12 European players ranked inside the world’s top 100 are playing at The Grange in the South Australian capital this week including Georgia Hall, Charley Hull and last week’s Vic Open winner Celine Boutier.

Matthew, who had a disappointing 2018 which saw her world ranking slip to 185, said the two-week LPGA swing in Australia was an ideal opportunity to check in on potential Solheim Cup players before announcing her final team in August.

“It gives you a good indication of how people are starting out the year and we’ll see how they progress from there,” the North Berwick resident who fired an opening round 73 said.

“Obviously there’s the five top world rankings and the three from the points list but a lot can happen in six months so there are a lot of players vying for positions.

“Winning the Solheim Cup is the main goal this year and personally for my golf I’ve struggled a bit over the past couple of years and the results haven’t been great so I’m just wanting to play a bit better this season.”

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