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Macdonald and Ralph set the pace at Stoke By Nayland
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                                                      Kelsey Macdonald                    Photo: DogLeg Media


Kelsey Macdonald and Hannah Ralph, aided and abetted by Amy Boulden, flew the flag for the home countries in the first round of the inaugural WPGA International Challenge at Stoke By Nayland.
 
Macdonald of Scotland and England’s Ralph negotiated the Gainsborough course at the Suffolk resort in four-under-par rounds of 68 to lead the 116-strong international field vying for the €4,000 winner’s cheque.
 
The 22-year-old Macdonald, however, was left to rue a bogey at the last that cost her outright leadership of the 54-hole event that carries a prize fund of €25,000 and is supported by Stoke By Nayland Hotel Golf and Spa.
 
By contrast, Ralph had a flawless round, the highlight of which was an eagle at the par five 455 yard fourth.
 
All of which left the pair a stroke ahead of Boulden of Wales, a member of the victorious 2012 Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup team who is making her professional debut.
 
The 19-year-old from Conwy showed a particular affection for the quintet of par fives on the course, posting birdies at three of them.
 
But, in common with Macdonald, she was also left to ponder what might have been after recording a bogey at the par three 18th.
 
As well as costing the teenager a share of the lead it also left her level with Spain’s Mireia Prat, the current leader of the LETAs Order of Merit.
 
In addition to England, Scotland and Wales, 19 countries have representatives in the tournament which is the only Ladies European Tour Access (LETAS) event scheduled in the United Kingdom.
 
LETAS is the official the official feeder tour to the Ladies European Tour and the top five in the rankings at the end of the season will be offered membership.

Among these rising stars of the women’s game is one of it most celebrated and senior figures – Alison Nicholas. The PGA Professional, former Solheim cup winning captain and US open champion is making a rare competitive appearance and ended day one on three-over-par.

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