CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Australians Tamara Johns, Nikki Campbell and Sarah Oh each shot 3-under 69 on Friday to lead the 54-hole ISPS Handa Women's New Zealand Open after the opening round.
The Australian trio led three players at 2 under, including the world's No. 1 amateur, 15-year-old Korean-born New Zealander Lydia Ko. American Alison Walshe and Thailand's Nontaya Srisawang were also at 2-under after the first round at the Clearwater Golf Club.
Players coped with windy conditions that hampered low scoring in the Ladies European Tour event.
''I definitely could have played better, but the scores aren't that crazy low today,'' Ko said. ''That's because of the wind.''
Most interest in the event centers on Ko, who was paired with world No. 19 Angela Stanford of the United States and Carlota Ciganda of Spain, who was both rookie of the year and the leading money winner in Europe last year.
“The wind was quite a surprise because we were playing in the morning and expected it to be pretty still,” said Ko, who played well from tee to green but struggled to convert her chances. “I think it’s a pretty solid score in this wind.”
Johns, who is back in golf after a two-year break, while Campbell has enjoyed success in Japan and Oh mostly plays in her native Korea. Campbell had five birdies and two bogeys in her 69, while Johns mixed six birdies, a bogey and a double bogey in her round and Oh had four birdies and a solitary bogey.
“It is a good thing to shoot a good score with the winds up,” said Campbell. “Hopefully tomorrow afternoon it will help me get used to some of the conditions.”
Four players share seventh place on 1-under 71: Giulia Sergas of Italy, Felicity Johnson of England, Julieta Granada of Paraguay and Sarah Jane Smith of Australia.
Many of the event’s biggest names struggled with the conditions. Stanford settled for a 6-over 78, while major winners Sophie Gustafson and Anna Nordqvist shot 78 and 79 respectively. Their fellow Swede had a 76, but made a hole-in-one on the par-3 16th.
Belen Mozo had a 72, while her fellow Spaniard Beatriz Recari carded a 73. Among the Americans in the field, Jennie Lee had a 72; Dori Carter, Esther Choe and Amelia Lewis had 73s; Kris Tamulis and Cheyenne Woods had 74s; Christina Kim shot a 78; and Ryann O’Toole and Sydnee Michaels had 80s.