Sport - Golf - Chiara Noja
Dubai based Chiara Noja leads by two shots after round one of the Investec South African Women's Open on the LET Image Credit: LET

Dubai based Chiara Noja (Ger) fired an excellent course record 10 under par 62 to lead by two shots at the €320,000 Investec South African Women’s Open on the Ladies European Tour.

She got off to a hot start at Steenberg Golf Club with four birdies in her opening five holes before dropping her only shot of the day on the sixth.

Noja soon found her rhythm once again with an eagle on the eighth and rolled in a further five birdies to secure her spot on 10 under par at the top of the leaderboard.

‘I think it was pretty consistent golf in general,’ said the LET winner. ‘I didn’t feel like I was swinging it incredibly well all day.

‘I put myself in a good position for birdies, my putting was definitely good and to hole some of those putts was really good.

‘My wedges were on point and I think that’s what we’ll try to do going into the next few days. Depending on the wind, we’ll see exactly how much we will need to go under par.’

The 16 year-old, who represents Jumeirah Golf Estates, secured her maiden victory on the LET back in November clinching the Aramco Team Series – Jeddah Individual title.

And being still so young in her professional career, Noja worked hard on adding new shots to her bag over the off-season.

She explained, ‘Over the winter I’ve done a lot of wedge work and a lot of the shots that I’ve learned to hit over this week and the start of the season I didn’t have in the bag last year.

‘There’s growth in that sense and also trusting myself a little better. I learned that in Jeddah last year and I’m trying to commit to everything and not be afraid to fail.’

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai sits in second place on eight under par having produced a round of 64 on the first day of competition.

The 2022 AIG Women’s Open champion also got off to a blistering start from the 10th hole when she rolled in seven birdies in her opening nine holes to make the turn in 29.

Buhai made her only error of the day on the third hole but soon bounced back with back-to-back birdies on five and six for a round of eight-under.

Three players sit in a share of third place with Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson, France’s Nastasia Nadaud and Dutch golfer Romy Meekers on six under par.

Gustavsson made seven birdies and one bogey on her way to a round of 66 and the Swede was happy with her day.

England’s Lily May Humphreys, who won last week’s Joburg Ladies Open, carded a first round of 67 to be in outright sixth place on five under par.

Noja tees off in her second round at 7.50 am today (Thursday) from the 10th Tee.

First round Leaders (Par 72, 6,179 Yards)

1 - C. Noja (Ger) 62 (-10)
2 - A. Buhai (RSA) 64 (-8)
3 - J. Gustavsson (Swe) 66 (-6)
   - N. Nadaud (Fr) 66 (-6)
   - R. Meekers (Ned) 66 (-6)