Skarpnord two clear in NZ

Golf365’s new ‘On Tour’ columnist Marianne Skarpnord is the leader after round one of the New Zealand Women’s Open.

Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord leads after the first round of the New Zealand Women’s Open on Thursday, but has a 12-year-old among her closest pursuers.
Skarpnord shot a fine seven-under 65 that included a dazzling opening nine of 29, to established a two-shot advantage over American Diana D’Alessio, but the 12-year-old New Zealander, Lydia Ko is, amazingly, just a further four shots back after carding a 71.
The 24-year-old Skarpnord started spectacularly with eight successive threes, one of which was an eagle at the par-5 446m fifth hole. She was seven-under after seven and missed a 15-foot putt for birdie at the ninth that would have given her a record 28 for nine holes in a Ladies European Tour (LET) event.
A stiff north-easterly wind presented Skarpnord with a harder challenge on the more testing back nine and she played it in level par 36, her only bogey at the 12th which was offset by a birdie at the 15th.
As for 12-year-old schoolgirl Ko, she said: “At the start of my round the putts were not going in, a few went sideways and the wind was a bit of a challenge.
“I had trouble at 17 where I was plugged in the greenside bunker, came out too strong and then topped my chip.”