Maja Stark might have had the firepower to best tame Coolangatta Tweed Heads this morning with her opening round 68, but it’s a breath of fresh air in almost local, Jordan O’Brien, who has turned some heads this morning.
Gold Coast-based O’Brien breezed around the West Course in an impressive three under 69 to sit one back of the Swede, alongside England’s Alice Hewson and talented amateur, Belinda Ji.
The round was a bit of a roller-coaster for the 25 year-old. After starting her day on the 11th, she promptly bogeyed the 13th. A birdie on the 15th, sadly, was followed by bogeys on 16 and 17. She managed to claw a shot back on the 18th, meaning she made the turn at one over.
If she was still harbouring nerves, then the birdie on the 18th seemed to wash them away. Birdies on the 1st, 2nd 4th and 8th saw her sizzle around the front nine in just 32 strokes.
With her round finishing on the tenth, O’Brien had a three metre putt to join Stark in the lead at four under, but sadly she left the putt for birdie on the edge, eventually settling for a 69.
“The front nine was a bit shaky to start,” O’Brien said post-round. “It took a while to find my feet out there, but the birdie on 18 settled everything, then another birdie on the first got me comfortable.”
Small in stature, but big in competitive spirit, O’Brien is no stranger to elite level competition; she successfully pre-qualified against the men to play in the Queensland Open back in 2021. She only turned pro at the beginning of the year, however, and admitted the buzz around a professional tournament still felt a bit new.
“I had the opportunity to play some TPS events and the Vic Open. They were a good welcoming to how tournaments are played.
“I just want to feel comfortable out here. Hopefully with a little more experience and a bit more play, I’ll find my feet and embrace it.
Although O’Brien took to the game at a relatively late age, unlike many of her fellow competitors, she is determined to chart her way to the top of the sport beginning with LET Q school at the end of this year. She is aware, though, a handy finish in the NSW Open this week could change her outlook quickly.
“The LPGA is the main goal, but I’m set on Q school for Europe at end of the Year.
“I’m not thinking too too far in front, but a good result here this week would certainly help along at the way.
“A good finish here is the main goal, and if something came out of it, even better.”
11.40am: Maja Making Waves, Camille Strikes Trouble
Maja Stark has the lead on her own at three under as the morning half of the draw begin to complete their rounds.
The Swede is three under, one shot in front of a group of six players, including defending champion Julia Engstrom, Amateur Belinda Ji,Gold Coast Based Jordan O’Brien, Argentina’s Magdalena Simmermacher and Camille Chevalier.
Chevalier had the lead at five under, but disaster struck for the frenchwoman with a double bogey on the short par-four 13th. She compounded the error with a bogey on her next hole to go tumbling out of there lead.
10.50 am: Chevalier By One But Meghan In The Mix
Freshly crowned Australian Women’s Classic Champion Meghan MacLaren has leapfrogged into red figures and into a tie for 8th place after eagling the 450 metre par-five 4th hole.
MacLaren was a little slow of the starting grid this morning, dropping a shot on her opening hole ( the 11th) and another on the 16th before making a her first birdie for the day on the par-five 18th.
Camille Chevalier is the player they are all chasing, however. The Frenchwoman is at five-under, having neatly negotiated the front nine in just 32 strokes in a blemish free effort.
Others of note who are in the mix include defending champion, Julia Engstrom, who is rolling along at two under, while Belinda Ji is leading the amateur charge. The NSW Representative has picked up a birdie on the 343 metre par-four 2nd to be in a four-way tie for fourth place.
9.35am: Ominous Trio Take The Lead
With all of the morning half of the draw now on course, Race to Costa Del Sol leader, Maja Stark, England gun Alice Hewson, and France’s Camille Chevalier have the lead midway through the session.
Starting at the 11th, Hewson caught fire early, with a brace of birdies on the 13th, 14th and 15th to get to three under. Sadly, she dropped one at the short par-four 16th to fall back to two under.
Stark, meanwhile has birdied the 12th and 15th. The swede looks in ominous form, and fresh from her runners-up finish last week to Meghan MacLaren at Bonville, she could be the player to watch.
7.30am: 2022 Women’s NSW Open Underway
NSW Representative Belinda Ji has made an early mark in the opening round of the Worrells Women’s NSW Open at Coolangatta Tweed Heads Golf Club.
Fresh from her withering final round finish in the Australian Women’s Classic at Bonville last weekend, Ji is one of eight players in red figures early in her opening round.
After starting with back-to-back birdies on the 11th and 12th, the soon-to-turn 20 year old had the lead to herself briefly, however she dropped a shot on the short par-four 13th.
England’s Alice Hewson currently leads at two under, however there are a host of big names in the mix, including, 2020 Champion Julian Engstrom, and her swedish countrywoman, Maja Stark.