| Laura Sedda Photo: J Rodriguez
Italy's Laura Sedda shot a round of two under par 70 to take a one shot lead after a windy first round at the Banesto Tour Zaragoza at Club de Golf Peñaza in Spain.
The 19-year-old from Vicenza near Venice is a stroke clear of four other players on one under. They are Marjet van der Graaff from the Netherlands, Danielle McVeigh from Northern Ireland and the Spanish duo Ana Belén Sánchez and Mireia Prat.
Sedda managed five birdies and three bogeys despite the tough conditions, with winds gusting up to 30km per hour.
“It was too windy, but I maintained a good rhythm and stayed patient,” said Sedda, the under-18 Italian champion. As an amateur, she also won the Scottish under-16s event and was runner-up at the British Girls’ in 2010.
For 24-year-old McVeigh, who now lives in Dublin, an eagle at the 11th was the highlight of her day. She hit a driver, followed by a five-iron to five feet and rolled in the putt to get her tournament off to a great start. “I holed long putts that were important and that helped mentally,” she said.
Both Sedda and McVeigh played in the afternoon, but conditions were tougher for the morning matches when Spanish compatriots Prat, Sánchez, Raquel Carriedo and Carlota Ciganda all played.
Prat, a rookie profesional on the Ladies European Tour, from Catalunya, commented: “It was a tough day, very windy. I started with a birdie after chipping in and had another birdie at the 10th, again, chipping in from 20 feet. I birdied the 11th and 13th from five feet but missed the green on the 6th and 15th and paid with bogeys, and one more on 17th with three putts.”
For former Solheim Cup player Sánchez, the 2004 BMW Ladies Italian Open champion, a one under par 71 was just what she needed to boost the confidence after a break from competition.
“I’m training again! This is the key,” she said. “I’m working with a psychologist, Javier de Miguel, who tells me to go back to my old routine. We are not working on technique but on routine. One under with tough conditions is not bad. The course was difficult: gusty winds and it was tough to chose the right club.”
Carriedo is another former Solheim Cup player making a rare appearance and a level par round of 72 put her right in the hunt.
The local player said: “I’m happy with the score on such a windy day. The course is tough and I have not trained that much. I’m playing under pressure, not just because everybody wants me to win here, but also because I do not have enough confidence in my game.”
At the other end of the experience spectrum, LET rookie Carlota Ciganda was another one of the five players sharing sixth place on level par 72.
Ciganda, who won the 2011 Murcia Ladies Open on the LET Access Series, said: “The course is playing short although the rough is difficult and the greens are firm. I don’t think there will be low scores this week. I’m hitting the ball well; I just need to improve my approach shots and putting.” She finished her round with a birdie on the 16th, followed by a par and a birdie on 18 after hitting her approach shot stone dead.
Five shots further down the leader board, last week’s Dinard Ladies Open champion Carly Booth from Scotland struggled in the tricky conditions to open with a 77.
Meanwhile, Italian Alessandra Averna, winner of the first Banesto event of 2012 in Málaga, had to retire due to circulation problems in her legs.