England's Diane Barnard up-staged her more illustrious rivals today by birdying four of the first five holes on her way to opening a one shot lead after the first round of the Evian Tour's £200,000 ANZ Ladies Masters at the Royal Pines Resort. Barnard carded eight birdies in a seven under par 65 and heads the leaderboard from New Zealander Lynette Brooky, while world number one Karrie Webb shares third spot on five under with Swede Sophie Gustafson and Scotland's Kathryn Marshall .
Opening with a par at the 10th hole, Barnard ran off four successive birdies from the 11th to the 14th and with a solitary bogey on the 18th, the 36-year-old from Weybridge bravely responded with four more birdies in an inward 32.
"I've played in this event seven times before and I've never putted very well on these greens," said Barnard. "But today I putted very well,"
"I got off to a great start, rolled in a few putts and got a good feel for the pace of the greens. I haven't played too well for the past few years, but I changed coaches recently and had four lessons with Eddie Birchenough, which helped me a lot.”
"I'm not hitting 100 per cent yet, but my short game is a bit tighter and I'm putting much better. I'm not really thinking of a win at this stage, more of a top-10. However, I wouldn't be here this week if I didn't think I could win."
|Can Webb Pull Through?|
Defending champion Webb, who will be going for her fourth successive victory in this event also started at the 10th and had a faultless round making five birdies
"I had a little streak, making four consecutive birdies from 14 to 17, and I suppose it dried up a little after that," said Webb, who has yet to win this season.
"But it was a pretty solid round - I hit 16 greens and didn't get myself into too much trouble. I probably left a few birdies out there but all in all I'm feeling pretty good about things."
Sweden's Sophie Gustafson started her European campaign with six birdies and a solitary bogey for her 67:
"I'm very happy because yesterday in the Pro-Am I hit as bad as I can remember," said the big hitting Swede from Varberg.
"My caddie Chuck said it was the worst he'd ever seen me hit it, so I was a little worried yesterday afternoon. But I went to range and thankfully I found it again and it worked well this morning."