Mehaffey two shots off the pace in Germany

Ronan MacNamara

Olivia Mehaffey (Photo: Tristan Jones/LET)

Ronan MacNamara

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Patricia Isabel Schmidt fired an opening round of 68 (-4) to lead by one shot at the end of the first day of the Amundi German Masters.

The German star, who grew up near Stuttgart, began her first round from the 10th tee at Golf & Country Club Seddiner See with the wind in full force.

It wasn’t the best of starts for Schmidt who made a double bogey on her first hole, however, she soon recovered rolling in birdies on holes 12, 17 and 18 to make the turn in 35 (-1).

The 28-year-old, who won the 2023 Belgian Ladies Open on the LET, then made three more birdies on holes one, six and eight for her 68 and leads her home tournament on four-under-par.

“When we started, the wind we had was the most,” said Schmidt. “I barely covered some bunkers where usually they would not even be in play. I think it was 30 metres we lost off the tee box with the drives and then on the back nine on some holes, you couldn’t feel it at all. Then it dropped but we had those gusts at the end.

“I started on the back nine, on hole 12 I was in the semi-rough and then hit it to three or four feet. It was a really nice second shot and then holed that putt. I made birdie on 17, I hit it to three or four metres and holed it – that was the first putt I holed longer than a couple of feet.

“On 18, I had a short five metres and holed that one. I had a two-footer for birdie on the first which was quite nice and made a nice one on the eighth. I could have made my life easier on six because I wanted to hit it to the green with my second shot and laid up in that 38-metre short bunker and made up-and-down birdie from there. That was probably the best up-and-down of the day.

“I started changing my thought about the round with my coach to only focus on one thing the whole round and if I hit a shank, I focus even harder on that the next hole and if I hit a great shot, I’m going to still focus on the same. I think that’s helped me a lot when I started doing that.”

Two players sit in a tie for second place just one shot further back with Austria’s Emma Spitz and Swedish amateur Meja Örtengren both on three-under-par.

Spitz teed off in the morning wave and had the windier conditions but was still able to shoot a round of 69 (-3) which included seven birdies and four bogeys.

“It was very windy, but I think I managed it pretty well so far,” said the Austrian. “We were very set on picking a target, even if it was very far from the pin or the middle of the fairway.

“We were just really focusing on that target and not the pin necessarily and I think that really helped me. My driving was really good, I think I only missed one or two fairways and my iron game was really good today too. I hit a lot of greens and that definitely helps.

“It’s been a decent season, I felt like I have been playing well but have missed those really good rounds. I felt like I would always make some stupid mistakes whether that’s a three-putt or not making an up-and-down. The little mistakes added up to too much, but I hope I can keep going with what I had today.”

Örtengren, who is number 16 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, had six birdies and three bogeys on her scorecard in Germany.

“It was quite steady to be honest, I didn’t make any mistakes,” said the two-time PING Junior Solheim Cup winner. “I hit a lot of fairways and greens, I made up-and-downs when I missed the green.

“I rolled in a few putts; it was quite steady. I took the opportunities when I got them and rolled in a few putts that weren’t makeable. I was also having patience with myself and doing a lot of good things mentally and talking with my caddie and having a good presence.

“It’s my first LET event in a different country, it’s a lot of new things with grandstands and people walking with the group. It’s so fun. It’s fun to see the professionals and see how they play and talk with them and see how they prepare for tournaments when they’re going back-to-back-to-back sometimes. It’s a lot of fun, but golf is still golf, so it’s not that much different.”

Seven players are in a share of fourth place with Germany’s Alexandra Försterling, Finland’s Noora Komulainen, Hong Kong’s Tiffany Chan, Switzerland’s Tiffany Arafi, Slovenia’s Ana Belac, Northern Ireland’s Olivia Mehaffey and Thailand’s Aunchisa Utama all on two-under-par.

Castlewarden’s Lauren Walsh is a shot further back and rounds off the under par scoring on one-under after a 71.

Three-time LET winner Försterling, who is from Berlin, had a slower start and was two-over after 10 holes but had an excellent finish with four birdies in her final six holes for a round of 70 (-2).

“It was really really windy, it got so gusty, and it played really hard – especially in the beginning it was really windy so I’m more than happy with the score,” said the German.

“You never really know where your ball is going to kick, if the wind is going to take it. I tried to just keep it in play as best as I can, hit fairways and hit greens and just go from there.

“There were some people watching which was great, it was really nice people came out to watch and supported us. I talked to my coach who is on the bag this week, we talked a lot and had fun and it worked out really good.

“It’s about enjoying the moment, staying in the moment, not getting too far ahead or thinking about the past and that’s what we tried, and we tried to laugh a lot and that worked.”

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