It should come as little surprise, given the idiosyncrasies of Royal Melbourne’s test, that an Australian should lead the way after the opening round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
Few, however, could have anticipated that it would fall to New South Wales native Sarah Kemp to lead the field into the tournament’s second day.
The 26-year-old, who has struggled to live up to her considerable promise since turning professional, carded a four-under-par 69 to claim a share of the lead with American Stacy Lewis.
The pair enjoy a one-shot advantage over Julieta Grenada, big-hitting Brittany Lincicome and World Number One Yani Tseng. The Hottest Player in the World™ Sandra Gal, US Open champion So Yeon Ryu and England’s Melissa Reid are amongst a group of five players a shot further adrift.
While those at the summit of the leaderboard coped admirably with Royal Melbourne’s considerable strategic demands, the same cannot be said of two high-profile Scandinavians.
Suzann Peterrsen and Sophie Gustafson, both of whom began the week hopeful of contending, struggled to find their rhythm early on and slumped to dismal, seven-over-par rounds of 80.
Elsewhere, home favourite Karrie Webb (75) was spared a costly two-shot penalty when a vigilant spectator intervened to prevent her from putting on the 13th green.
The man, who was initially dismissed as a heckler, was the only person to realise that Webb had replaced her marker incorrectly after moving it to accomodate playing parter Yani Tseng.
Other notable scores: Christel Boeljon (74), Lydia Ko (74), Lexi Thompson (74), Christina Kim (75), Angela Stanford (75), Morgan Pressel (76).