Linn Grant fired a flawless round of 65 (-7) to lead at the end of the first day of the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España.
The 2022 Race to Costa del Sol champion had no blemishes on the card rolling in birdies on the second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth holes.
On the back nine, the 24-year-old rolled in two more birdies on 11 and 18 to sign for a round of 65 and lead on seven-under-par.
“The wind made it trickier for sure,” said Grant. “The course is playing quite short and it’s soft, I was hitting my irons really well with that combination it made it a lot easier today than any other day. I got myself a lot of opportunities and took care of some of them.
“I enjoy playing in the wind if I play well! It can be a struggle; you can get in that loop of just messing around with it and it gets hard. I just tried to keep myself clear and take it a bit easy.
“In this area, there is a lot of Swedes and some family live here as well. It’s a good week to be back for before heading back to the cold. I have memories of two great weeks, two great events. Solheim was amazing, it’s really fun to be back and have the Tour back in Spain and be here.”
Rookie Kirsten Rudgeley sits in second place on six-under-par after she also went bogey-free on the opening day.
The Australian made her birdies on the first, third, sixth, tenth and 14th holes at Real Club de Golf Las Brisas.
“I played pretty solidly all day really,” Rudgeley explained. “I didn’t have one bogey and if I made a mistake then I made up for it. It was just steady golf really.
“I’m definitely used to playing in the wind, you have to play smart with it and just make the right choices. I judged the wind based on my experience and probably just trusting that it was doing what it was actually doing and trusting your clubs in.
“I have my uncle on the bag which is really nice, and we just went for a walk and chatted the whole way around. He knows absolutely zero about golf! I don’t think too much when I’m out there but it’s always good having family on the bag.”
Two players are in a tie for third place with England’s Liz Young and France’s Celine Boutier both on five-under-par.
LET winner Young, who began her round from the 10th tee, had seven birdies and two bogeys on her scorecard for her 67 (-5).
“I had only played 18-hole practice round before and it really wasn’t that windy because I played early,” said the Englishwoman. “It was a completely different golf course that I played today and it’s tricky. It’s actually picking up those last few holes, it was a bit stronger.
“I played pretty solidly, managed to control it in the wind. I would be pleased with seven birdies in flat calm weather. My iron play was very solid today, I didn’t try and force it, I just played sensibly and then holed some nice putts. All in all, I didn’t really get in much trouble. It was a nice round of golf.”
Race to Costa del Sol contender Boutier only had one dropped shot during her round after she rolled in birdies on three, five, seven, nine, 12 and 18.
Based on the current positions of the contenders after round one, the Frenchwoman is projected to go to the top of the 2023 Race to Costa del Sol rankings.
Boutier said: “I’m very happy with my first round, I feel the conditions were quite tough with it being windy out there. Happy to have a good start to my round and to finish on a birdie is always a positive.
“The wind was not easy and when I practiced it was an opposite wind, but I feel we made a lot of good decisions with my caddie so I’m very satisfied with that. I will definitely take a five-under.”
Five players are in a share of fifth place with South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace, Belgium’s Manon De Roey, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, England’s Alice Hewson and Germany’s Alexandra Försterling all on four-under-par.
Six players finish the end of the first day in a tie for 10th place with Norway’s Madelene Stavnar, South Africa’s Casandra Alexander, India’s Aditi Ashok, Netherland’s Anne Van Dam and Spanish duo Ana Peláez Trivino and amateur Andrea Revuelta all on three-under.
One of the highlights of the first day was Swedish star Caroline Hedwall making a hole-in-one on the par-three 16th hole.
The second round begins at 10 am (local time) with the leaders teeing off at 12.01 pm (local time) in Spain.