“Just chill!” That’s the plan for NSW Amateur Doey Choi, the surprise early leader at the Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic – Bonville after a brilliant 6-under 66 to lead the morning wave of players on day one.
Choi, the reigning Queensland and South Australian Amateur champion, amassed eight birdies against two dropped shots at the highly regarded Bonville layout to lead by two from Swedish Solheim Cup player Madelene Sagstrom.
Hannah Green and Whitney Hillier are the leading Australian professionals, part of a three-way tie for third at 3-under alongside Swede Jenny Haglund on a day which saw just 13 players break par in the morning groups.
18-year-old Choi, who plays out of Concord Golf Club in Sydney, had a stellar amateur season in 2018 but said she had few expectations coming into this week after not playing her best at last week’s ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open.
“I didn’t play too good last week, so my confidence wasn’t too high,” she said of her recent form.
“I haven’t been hitting it that great, so it was nice to play some solid golf today. I hit some really good shots, hit lots of greens and didn’t miss too many fairways.”
She said the pressure of leading a professional tournament was slightly higher than an amateur event but that she would try to treat the situation the same way.
“I guess there is a little bit more pressure now for the next few rounds,” she said, “so I just hopefully play more solid golf throughout the week, and hopefully I’ll be up there.”
Asked her plans for the afternoon she didn’t hesitate in responding: ‘Just chill!”
Choi’s impressive round was the story of the morning, but the tournament is nicely poised halfway through the opening day with several of the marquee players in the field living up to expectations.
The former Solheim Cup player said she was pleased with her play after formulating a game plan early in the week and sticking to it.
Sagstrom, the 36-hole leader at last week’s ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open before faltering Saturday, holds outright second place at 4-under with six birdies against two dropped shots in a consistent effort.
“We had a really set game plan,” she said. “We were just trying to hit fairways, trying to hit greens and just get the putter rolling because I know I can make birdies with the putter.
“It was just very steady out there. It was nice.”
Hannah Green made a fast start, but three straight three putts derailed her momentum in the middle of the round.
“I nearly made it three in a row but just missed the hole on 11,” she said of back to back birdies to open her round after starting at the 10th.
“But towards the end of the first nine, I struggled with the putter a little bit. I just hit it on the wrong side of the pins and left myself in difficult spots to two-putt from.
“Overall, though, I was really pleased with how I struck the ball. I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities.”