amateur golf
amateur golf


Scotland's Julie Forbes fired a course record equalling five under par 67 on her way to posting a three shot lead after the first round of the UR150,000 Palmerston Ladies German Open at the Sporting Club Berlin Faldo course on the border of Poland.

The 35-year-old from Aboyne fired six birdies and a solitary bogey to lead Austria's Natascha Fink, who carded a two under 70 in the windy conditions of the morning.

Five players are tied on one under par, Australian Corinne Dibnah, Germany's
Elisabeth Esterl, Belgium's Valerie Van Ryckeghem, South African Vanessa
Smith and France's Karine Icher, who was runner up at last weeks Compaq

And nine players are tied on level par including Norway's Tour rookie Suzann
Pettersen, who won the individual title in last years World amateur championships on this course, England's Caroline Hall, Swedes Isabelle
Rosberg, Anna Becker, Susanna Berglund and Pernilla Sterner.

Forbes opened with a birdie at the 11th, her second hole, chipping to 15 feet at the par five. An eight iron to 20 feet at the 15th saw her add another and with a wedge to 15 feet at the next, she turned in a faultless 33.

She continued her good run at the first hole, lobbing a nine iron to 15 feet again, rolling that in to move to four under. Despite dropping a shot at the second, after finding a bunker, she rallied with a further birdie at the fourth, hitting a sand iron to 20 feet.

Her final red figure came at the par five sixth, getting up and down from a greenside bunker to close on five under.

Forbes, who has not won on Tour since the 1994 French Open, credited her
success today from a lesson with Solheim Cup captain Dale Reid, along with
the fact that her injured knee is improving.

Having watched her hitting the ball on the range last week in Sweden, Reid, who retired halfway through the round today with tiredness, suggested that she should check her alignment.

"Dale squared me up," said Forbes, "That gave me something to work on down
the range and with the knee improving all the time, it seems to be working.

"Added to that, I putted well too, the greens here are so nice and they are pretty easy to read. I had a bit of luck too and the only bad shots I played were on the par fives."

Fink was delighted with her form today after a spate of recent mediocre performances by her own standards. Starting on the back nine, she began her
afternoon with a bogey on the 381-yard 14th, but responded with a birdie at the next to turn in level par.

Her back nine was far more productive with birdies on the first and third. And at the sixth, she played her shot of the day when she hit a six iron out of a fairway bunker, leaving the ball just an inch from the cup.

"I was yelling for it to stop," said Fink. "And when I got up there, it was an inch short! I should have kept quiet!"

Despite a bogey at the next, Austria's leading professional took the clubhouse lead early in the afternoon with a back nine of two under 34.

"I was playing pretty good earlier in the season and I had my boyfriend on the bag. But it wasn't working too well, " added Fink.

"So I changed and had my mum on the bag for a while - it seemed that I was
always doing well with her, so this week, I took my boyfriend to the train station and ten minutes later, I headed to the airport to pick my mum up!"

Esterl, looking for her maiden win on Tour was also happy with her first round of 71. Despite an unsteady front nine, three bogey's and a double bogey at the 171-yard fifth hole, the 25-year-old from Dingolfing rallied with two birdies to turn in three over par.

She rescued her day with a flawless back nine of 32 with birdies at the 10th, 11th, 13th and 16th to put her in contention on home soil.

"I was pretty tired on the front nine," said Esterl. "I was three over after nine, but that was a pretty good way to finish.

Icher, who was instrumental in the French amateur team victory here last year maintained her good form and hoped that she could add a win before the year is over.

Two birdies and a solitary bogey moved her into contention once more and the
22-year-old from Châteauroux, who has her father caddying for her this week
was looking forward to the weekend.

"I like the course," said Icher, "You have to think your way around here and stay out of trouble. All the bunkers are in play and you must hit it where you want to go.

"It would be great to win before the end of the year, but I am just going to take it one day at a time."

Dibnah, after her 71, said: "It could have better, could have been worse - I hit a couple of loose ones, the easy shots into the par fives which you should capitalise on.

"But I played pretty steady today and I just have to stay focussed out there
on each shot.

"It depends on the weather, but I reckon that about six or seven under par will win this event - I would sit in the clubhouse and wait now if I had that score.


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