Wikstrom and Spitz lead with no joy for Craig in Finland as she opens with 78

Ronan MacNamara

Ursula Wikstrom of Finland (Photo by Oisin Keniry/Getty Images)

Ronan MacNamara

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Victoria Craig struggled on day one of the Aland 100 Ladies Open as she fell to a six-over 78 in the Aland Islands off the coast of Finland. 

The Northern Irishwoman carded six bogeys without registering a birdie to leave her in a share of 69th place and ten shots off the pace. 

An opening bogey set the tone for the day before following it up with dropped shots on the fourth and sixth holes to turn in 39. 

Six pars appeared to steady the ship but bogeys on 13, 14 and 18 left her with work to do to make the final round cut. 

Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom and Austrian Emma Spitz coped with the windy conditions the best to share the first-round lead after a superb pair of four-under-par 68s. 

Home favourite Wikstrom carded birdies on the 1th, 14th and 17th holes before sinking a birdie on 18 saw her level affairs with Spitz at the summit. 

“It was a good day today. I finally made some putts and I’ve been struggling on the greens recently, so it was nice to make some good putts,” said the 42-year-old from Espoo, who is playing for her first title in her 296th tournament on the LET. 

“I loved that putt on the 18th with the crowd behind me. I always love to play in Finland with the crowds. It’s always nice to get some extra attention and have people behind you who want you to win.” 

Two-time Junior Solheim Cup player Spitz put on a fast finish to hold the early clubhouse lead. An eagle on the par-5 15th helped her play her last four holes in five-under after she followed it up with three successive birdies. 

The Austrian believed a conservative approach on her approach shots paid dividends. 

“On this course, when it gets windy, you have to play safe and aim for the middle of the green,” she said. “The course is fun. The greens are in perfect condition and it’s a really good test. If you play well, you can make birdies, but if you make mistakes there are some bad scores out there as well. The greens are easier for me to read than last week, so I felt good.” 

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