When Karrie Webb commenced her first Oates Vic Open this morning one would be excused if they had mistaken the occasion for the championship afternoon.
Such was the vibrancy of the attendees spread throughout the creek course in her star-studded group featuring 2013 Oates Vic Open champion Stacey Keating and crowd favourite Su Oh.
The former world number one would also be greeted by challenging wind and would unfortunately register six bogeys; resulting in a final score of four over par 77.
Later in the afternoon three consecutive bogeys by Charlotte Ellis would prevent her from keeping up with her fellow English counterpart Georgia Hall who remains the outright leader by three strokes at four under. Trailing Hall, is a large contingency of players at one under including Australia’s number three ranked professional Rebecca Artis.
“The beach course is a hard course; I was playing three clubs more in different situations and played really steady,” said Hall.
“Thankfully I only had two bogeys and while I’ve made more birdies in the past I certainly hadn’t had that many in these (windy) conditions.”
Overall, the International women continued their tradition of strong starts at the tournament.
Last year, seven Internationals made up the top 15 for the women on the opening day.
That included Marianne Skarpnord, the eventual winner. While the soon to be 30-year-old finished equal 10th today, her score may have been worse if not for her hole-in-one on the 12th beach course hole. Skarpnord’s ace comes exactly one year and one day after fiancé Richard Green had the albatross on the par-4 15th hole (Beach Course) during the Pro-Am that was seen all around the world.
This year, a total of nine International women finished from first to equal tenth in Hall, Lauren Taylor and Alexandra Peters (England), Alexandra Bonetti (France), Justine Dreher (France), Nanna Madsen (Denmark), Isabell Gabsa (German), Olivia Cowan (Germany) and Marianne Skarpnord (Norway).
South Australian Kristalle Blum is the leading amateur, just three shots adrift of Hall.
Blum is amongst eight players tied for second overall after registering a score of one under-par; a reasonable effort considering the 18-year-old conceded four consecutive bogeys.