Helen Alfredsson raced into a three-shot lead with a six-under-par 67 in the opening round of the WPGA Championship of Europe yesterday.
In the hot, balmy conditions, the Swede, who won the title in 1997, tamed the links with a flawless six-birdie round in halves of 34 and 33.
An early starter, the 36-year-old set the target, finishing three ahead of a group of five players – Australia's Corinne Dibnah, South African Laurette Maritz, France's Karine Icher and the Norwegian pair of Cecilie Lundgreen and Suzann Pettersen.
Nicola Moult, one of the few women to use the long-handled putter, Johanna Head and Joanne Morley led the British challenge on two under, but Laura Davies could do no better than 75.
For Alfredsson, it was a near-perfect round as she holed a string of putts from about 10 feet. "Conditions couldn't have been easier for a links course. There was hardly a breath of wind," she said. "But I still had to play very well to get to six under and I'm delighted with the start. I'm coming back to something near my best."
It was helping Europe to victory in last year's Solheim Cup that sparked Alfredsson's revival from a string of injuries. "That week proved that I could be competitive again," she said. "It really helped me start enjoying the game again."
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