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THUNDER SPOILS THE DAY AT THE MEXX

 

Heavy thunder, rain and lightning interrupted play twice during the first round at the 100,000 Mexx Sport Open at the Kennemer GC outside Amsterdam. With a total of three hours of play lost, just under half of the field have yet to complete the opening round when play was suspended at 2010hrs.

But some of the early starters managed to finish with four players tied for the lead on four under par. Finland's Riikka Hakkarainen shares top spot with New Zealander Gina Scott and England's Caroline Grady, all firing 68's around this tight and tricky links course.

Norway's Suzann Pettersen, leading the Bill Johnson rookie of the year race,
is also four under after twelve holes with England's Elaine Ratcliffe sharing fifth place with Jehanne Jail of France and Sweden's Linda Ericsson, carding 69 a piece.

Five players finished at two under including Karine Icher of France, winner of the Ladies German Open, Swedes Eva Lotta Stromlid and Anna Berg, and England's Sarah Bennett, with another five players on the same score with holes left to play.

Hakkarainen carded an impressive nine birdies in her rain delayed round to post the best score of her year.

"I got into a bit of trouble after the rain, but with nine birdies, I can't complain," said the former Scottish girls open strokeplay champion.

"It was a great day on a tough course, every time I got into trouble, I made a birdie - I have never made nine in a round before but I've had eight though!"

Scott, who won the 1664 Chart Hills Classic exactly a year ago, carded seven
birdies and three bogeys in her staccato 68.

"It's not surprising, I've done more practice today than I have all year. Three times I went to the range today to hit balls between rain delays," she laughed.

"I made a few putts out there and that round has got to be good around here. It's really tight out there and I am happy to be in with a 68."

Grady, a 28-year-old from Norwich has only made one cut in the last two years on Tour, and her 68 was by far the best round of her career to date.

Six birdies and two bogeys helped her cause and brought a little hope for next season.

"That is my best round as a pro," said the former East Anglian Champion. "I hit the ball pretty straight and kept out of trouble."

Ratcliffe returned to form after a struggling season where her best finish was tied 31st in the German Open. The 28-year-old from Crewe, who injured her back at this event last year, carded five birdies in her effort.

"Yep, that was much better, it has given me a bit of confidence, the back injury has been a bit of a problem all year, but it is slowly improving."

And Sweden's Filippa Helmersson, one under par after 15 holes before darkness stopped play, carded a hole-in-one at the 11th, firing an eight iron straight into the cup for her first Tour ace.

Sadly for the 25-year-old from Lund, she did not win one of the shiny new Lancia cars on offer at the eighth and 15th holes.

 
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