Dubai: Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall shone brightest of them all as the Swede took the lead with a blistering round of seven under par on the opening night of the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic late on Wednesday.
Playing on the floodlit Faldo course, the 31-year-old Stockholm resident with six Ladies European Tour (LET) titles to her name, posted five birdies and an ace on the par-three 17th hole to lead by two strokes from Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck and French fellow Solheim Cup player, Celine Boutier.
Korean-born New Zealand professional golfer Lydia Ko was in fourth with a total of four-under.
Starting from the sixth hole, Hedwall opened up with 10 straight pars to find her rhythm before igniting her challenge with a birdie on the par-five 16th to get under par for the day before producing a shot-of-the-day from 162 yards on the par-three 17th and walk away with an Omega Speedmaster 38, Co-Axial Chronograph 30MM.
Dialled in on the laser beam flagstick all the way, her towering six-iron looked nowhere else and pitched straight in the hole for one of golf’s most unlikely shots.
“I heard how it hit the pin and then I thought it came off because something white flew off the flag stick. I thought my ball was in the bunker. I walked up and saw a ball in the bunker and remarked there it is but my Pro-Am partner said that it was his ball,” she related.
“So I walked up to the hole to double check and it was there. I realised just after the hole in one that I’d won a watch, which is cool,” she added.
Trailing by two shots heading into Thursday’s Round two at five-under par is Germany’s Fuenfstueck, who led for most of the day as the daylight leader, and France’s Boutier, who compiled a clean bogey-free round of 67. Coincidentally, both players started their round from the first hole and will swap places on Thursday for the ‘moonlight’ shift.
Fuenfstueck, who finished ninth on the 2019 Order of Merit, may still be in search of her first victory but the young German has posted as many as eight top-10 finishes in 32 career starts and she came in to the week having played every LET event this year, as well as the season finale on the LETAS.
“I came out to Dubai a bit early to practice on a few of the golf courses around here, there’s just so many nice ones so I just tried to prepare as well as I could. I’ve played as much golf as I could this year and although I still missed a few putts out there, I am really pleased with my day,” the German related.
“Perhaps there will be less wind at night [on Thursday], but the greens are easier to read in the sun because you can tell the grain a bit more but maybe I will find out what it will be like,” she added.
In contrast to the German’s tournament participation, Boutier is making her first regular LET start of the season, having played predominantly on the LPGA this year but immediately got back in to the swing with five birdies, including a closing three after pitching to three feet.
Action will continue with players switching tee times from 3pm in Round Two on Thursday.