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Golf - 23. November 2018.

Thomson, Van Dam and Young share lead at the Spanish Open

Scotland’s Michele Thomson, Anne Van Dam of the Netherlands (above) and England’s Liz Young share the overnight lead in the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino, after heavy rain halted first round play on Thursday. 

Thomson and Van Dam carded a pair of three-under-par 68s to take the clubhouse lead and Young had played the back nine in three-under-par 32 before play was suspended at 3.13pm local time. Due to a waterlogged course and persistent rainfall, the first round will resume on Friday morning. 

Thomson, who is looking for her first LET title, made a brilliant start after making a short birdie putt on the first hole. She then chipped in on the fourth and birdied the long eighth to make the turn in three-under 33. Although she double bogeyed the 14th, she recovered with a pair of birdies on the 15th and 16th holes to keep her score in challenging conditions. 

Thomson credited her older brother, Mark, who is caddying, for being a great help. He had played the course two weeks ago and helped keep her mind busy with chat about their football team, Aberdeen.

The 30-year-old said: “I like the golf course and I’ve got my brother here, so we are just having a fun week. The course suits me and it’s a little bit wet out there, so I’m used to that, being from Scotland.” 

Thomson lies in 80th position on the LET Order of Merit heading into the final event of the year, just inside the cut-off to keep her card for the 2019 season, but says she is feeling relaxed.

“I’m just trying to enjoy the week and not really think about the pressure. I know that I’m a better player than how I’ve played this year, so I want to go out and prove to myself that I can do it,” she said. 

“I struck my irons really well and the greens were receptive, so I played to the number and holed quite a lot of good putts. The short ones are more important. The greens are really good and really quick, so I’ve been concentrating on that and not getting too greedy. 

“The course is playing quite long. It’s getting it into your head that you need to hit more club than you think. It is playing longer and the ground is quite heavy. It’s really wet and putting the ball in position is important. It was disappointing to have a double bogey but other than that I’ve played really well.” 

Van Dam made a poor start with a birdie on the 10th, but fired three consecutive birdies from the 13th and added another on the par-5 eighth. She is looking for her third LET title and her second in 2018 after winning the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open in Sitges near Barcelona two months ago. 

The 23-year-old from Arnhem commented: “I started with a bogey after I hit a poor shot from the middle of the fairway, but after that it was solid, a lot of fairways, greens and birdie chances. It’s definitely important to be in the fairway. The greens are tricky and so soft. I struggled on some greens with the amount of backspin I got, so I played it further back to have a 7 or 8 iron in. You’ve got to be sharp. I hit a lot of shots on the wrong side of the hole and then you’ve got no chance to make the putt, so it’s a tricky golf course. I don’t use my driver that much on this course. It’s all about position and hitting the right spots.”
Meanwhile, Young started with birdies on the 11th and 13th holes, before dropping a shot on the 14th, coming in with birdies on the 15th and 18th to get into contention for her first win. 

European number one Georgia Hall and the defending champion Azahara Muñoz were both on two-under-par after five holes, alongside María Hernández after eight, Olivia Cowan after nine and Agathe Sauzon, who signed for a 69.

Only half the field of 96 players had completed 18 holes when play was suspended on Thursday. 

Early leader board:
1.- Michele Thomson (SCO) 68, -3
Anne Van Dam (NED) 68, -3
Liz Young (ENG) -3 (after 9 holes)
4.- Agathe Sauzon (FRA) 69, -2
+.- Olivia Cowan (GER) -2 (after nine holes)
+.- María Hernández (ESP) -2 (after eight holes)
+.- Azahara Muñoz (ESP) -2 (after five holes)
+.- Georgia Hall (ENG) -2 (after five holes)

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