Harpal Singh Bedi / Gurugram
Norwegian star Tonje Daffinrud sizzled at the finish with a hat-trick of birdies to separate herself from the rest of the field and open up a handy two-shot lead while Ridhima Dilwari stole the show with a stunning 3 under 69 on the opening day of the Hero Women’s Indian Open here on Thursday.
Daffinrud’s 6-under 66 was the lowest first round score at the DLF Golf & Country Club since the pairs of 66s by Swede Pernilla Lindberg and Thai Nontaya Srisawang in 2011, but those cards came at the Arnold Palmer course.
The leader was two shots clear of another Norwegian, Marianne Skarpnord; young Thai Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, and the experienced Austrian Christine Wolf, who carded 68 each.
Local challenger Ridhima is Tied-5th with the 2011 champion, Swedish Caroline Hedwall and England’s Florentyna Parker, all of whom shot 69 each.
Ridhima, who played college golf in the US and turned pro soon after the Asian Games, played her first pro event on the domestic Tour two weeks ago at the same course and finished T-4th.
The next best Indian was Gaurika Bishnoi (71) at T-11th while Tvesa Malik, Afshan Fatima and amateur Sifat Sagoo, all with 72, were T-18.
The 27-year-old Daffinrud, who graduated in Business and Economics from the University of Denver, turned pro in 2014. She came through the ranks and before turning pro, she played on LET’s Access Series as an amateur. When she became pro, she won back-to-back events and finished in Top-5 of Access Series Merit list to get a LET card for 2015.
Daffinrud, who was also hit by injury in 2015, has had a best LET finish of T-6 in the Victorian Open in 2017. She has never broken par at this course and her best finish has been T-40th in 2015. She missed the cut last two years. So, expectedly, she was elated and said, “I’m really happy with that. I’ve never shot under par on this course before and to make quite a lot of birdies and not many mistakes was a really good day.”
In the morning, Thailand’s Pannarat shot a bogey-free four-under-par 68 in hot and humid conditions to take a two shot clubhouse lead. The 20-year-old from Roi Et in Northeast Thailand, has been a pro on the LPGA for three years and she knocked down four birdies without any bogeys on her tournament debut.