Walker’s good form rolls on

Scotland’s Kylie Walker, who won the Ladies European Tour’s most recent tournament in Holland three weeks ago, remained at the head of affairs as she seized the first round lead in the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open presented by Respect on Thursday.

The 27-year-old from Glasgow fired an opening four-under-par 68 on the Gray Bear Golf Course in Golf Resort Tále, a lush and scenic venue in the Low Tatras Mountains, near Brezno.

She ended the day one clear of four other players: the recent Turkish Airlines Ladies Open champion Valentine Derrey and three LET rookie professionals: Scotland’s Sally Watson, Germany’s Karolin Lampert and Patricia Sanz Barrio of Spain.

A run of three straight birdies from the third hole followed by another on the long ninth saw Walker make the turn in four-under before she carded two bogeys against two birdies on the back nine to come home in level par.

“I played good today. Holland was good fun but it feels a long time ago,” said Walker. “I have more belief, just being able to win in Holland in a play-off was great and it’s a dream come true to win at this level so I just want to do it more.

“I hit it in close a couple of times and was holing out well for par. I made four birdies on the front. It’s a course where you can hit good shots but end up in tricky spots so it’s really about hitting the correct spots on the greens and hitting the fairways to give yourself a good chance.”

Fellow Scot Watson, whose results have improved steadily each week on tour so far this year, had a rollercoaster round with nine pars, six birdies and three bogeys. She said: “My back nine was a lot more solid. I got off to an up and down start and didn’t have my first par until the seventh hole so it was nice to steady the ship on the back nine and finish off with two birdies there.”

A hole in one at the second was the perfect start for Derrey, who went immediately into the lead before taking a double bogey on the difficult par-four sixth hole, playing to a narrow, severely sloping green surrounded by hazards. A bogey on the eighth followed by a birdie on the ninth saw her play the front nine in level par. She then picked up three shots on the back nine with a birdie on 11 and an eagle on 18. It was her first hole in one during a tournament round.

Those further down the leader board include the leading Slovakian player Lea Klimentova, 14, in a share of 27th on 73. The 1.7 handicap player, who is playing on her home course, commented: “I’m happy. I was just enjoying my game because I played really well. I know every hole and how I should play it. Zuzana is also a member and helped me with the course management.”

Fellow home hope Veronika Falathova ended the day a stroke further behind on two-over-par 74 alongside 15 other players including top ranked Charley Hull.