Maha Haddioui broke new ground for Arab female golfers at the Aramco Team Series - Jeddah after becoming the first Arabic golfer to lead a Ladies European Tour event after its opening day, as Team Hall surged to the top of the leaderboard of the innovative tournament.
The Moroccan was picked by Georgia Hall in this week’s Draft, while Diksha Dagar of India, and H.E Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of Aramco and Golf Saudi, were assigned to the team via a random draw.
The quartet carded an opening round of -19 to lead the $1million tournament, with Captain Hall leading the way. Hall finished last week’s Aramco Saudi Ladies International 13-under-par for her final three rounds – and in going bogey-free en route to a seven-under par 65 appears to have maintained that sparkling form into this week’s contest.
“Bogey-free is always a nice round here,” said Hall, who also shares the first round lead in the tournament’s individual format, with Germany’s Olivia Cowan.
“I tried to take advantage of not a lot of wind, and I still missed a quite few cuts, but I’m happy with -7.”
Haddioui had a mixed day after finishing on two over par in the indivual format, but played a fey role for the team as they stormed to the top of the leaderboard.
“It was really fun playing as a team,” said Haddioui, a fan-favourite in the Middle East. “I started pretty well but couldn’t keep it up on the back nine. But still, I made a few good pars when I needed to and had a few birdies on the front nine too, so it was nice.”
Diksha Dagar – who missed the cut at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International – wasted no time in making amends today, shooting an opening round 68.
“Today was very good in general,” said Dakar. “I had a very good start, and we have a very good team. We have a chance and tomorrow we can pick it up and continue playing good golf.”
Sitting in second place is Team Carlota Ciganda, comprising the Spaniard, compatriot Harang Lee, Germany’s Leticia Ras-Anderica, and amateur Lee Seung Su.
“I’m enjoying being on this course,” said Ciganda. “The back nine was tricky. There was a lot of wind today and the last few holes weren’t easy, but we did great as a team – when one player was in trouble we had another in good shape. That’s what you want in this type of format. I had a great time with Harang, Leticia and our amateur and we’re ready for tomorrow.”
Olivia Cowan won the Aramco Team Series – London’s team crown back in July. In sitting joint-top with Hall with two rounds to play, the German could now end this year’s run of Series events with a solo win, too. Team Cowan also sit just three behind Team Hall.
“I think we just worked really well as a team,” said Cowan. “On some of the holes where one didn’t do as well, the other two helped out. We had quite a few birdies which definitely helped. Our amateur is really good to talk to and he’s really chilled out. We all get on really well, so it’s a good team. The most important thing is to have fun out there – and we’re having a good time, which makes us play well.”