21 Feb 2020 | Professional golf |
Stephenson right at home in Bonville
American Lauren Stephenson made the best of the perfect scoring conditions at Bonville Golf Resort early on Thursday, shooting to the lead of the Geoff King Motors Australian Ladies Classic Bonville.
The 23-year old, from Greenville in South Carolina, started her round from the ninth tee and was quickly into stride with four birdies in her opening six holes to set the tone.
Stephenson dropped a shot at the difficult par-four 16th before regaining her composure and adding three more birdies over the closing holes to sign for a six-under-par 66 in the event co-sanctioned by the ALPG and LET.
This is her fourth week of competition in 2020, as she played in the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio (T35), missed the cut in the ISPS Handa Vic Open and tied for 48th in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open last week.
"I love Australia. I’m super happy to be here for a month," Stephenson said.
"I think I would move here if I didn’t live in the United States. The people are so nice and the golf is so fun.
"This course is extremely different to what we played the last two weeks in the Vic and Australian Opens, but this course is amazing. It’s nice to play something that’s more familiar to me, because my courses at home have a lot of grain and are similar to this style. I feel at home.
"Being from South Carolina, it’s very humid, so (this is) very familiar to me. I’ve enjoyed it so far, so I’m excited for this week.
"I have had a first-round lead before, although not in a while. It’s the first day and we’ve got a lot of golf left, so this afternoon I’ll take it easy and maybe go to the beach. Enjoying the rest of the week is my plan. I feel like I’m playing good golf, so I’m not going to stress too much."
In a tie for second just one shot off the lead are Australian Breanna Gill, Scot Gemma Dryburgh, Finn Noora Komulainen and the Korean trio of Min A Yoon, Hye Ji Lee and world No.35 Ayean Cho.
Sydney amateur Stephanie Kyriacou was the best of the rest of the Australians, shooting a 69 to leave her more illustrious playing partners - American Christina Kim and European No.1 Esther Henseleit - in her wake.
Defending champion Marianne Skarpnord was five under and tied for the lead after nine holes, but made a triple-bogey on the 18th, which she played as her 10th, and finished at even par.
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