By Kent Gray
Shy Thai Supamas Sangchan was happy to let her golf do the talking after grabbing the early clubhouse lead and keeping it all the way to the end of an absorbing opening day at the 12th Omega Dubai Ladies Classic.
The 21-year-old may have been attired in loud golf-themed trousers but her limited and quietly-spoken English meant there were slim post-round pickings for the press following her five-under 67 on the Majlis course at Emirates Golf Club.
Rest assured Sangchan is fluent in Siamese and super low scoring. She’ll take a one shot buffer into Thursday’s second round over five players – Scot Kelsey MacDonald, Finland’s Minea Blomqvist and Noora Tamminen, Australian rookie Celina Yuan and Dane Nanna Koerstz Madsen – while Dame Laura Davies and Solheim Cupper Florentyna Parker are among a group of seven players a further stroke back after 69s.
Sangchan’s media huddle afterwards lasted all of five questions, the first of which was clearly lost in translation. Paraphrasing the rest, she arrived in Dubai feeling pretty chipper about her game, stayed in the moment and found the Majlis greens “really fast”.
To flesh that out a little, know that the world’s 228th ranked player arrived in Dubai fresh from four top 30 finishes in her last four events, highlighted by T-11 and T-12 efforts in Abu Dhabi and China, the latter in defense of her thus far sole Ladies European Tour title at last month’s Sanya Open. Her pursuers will also be aware that the Thai won the Hong Kong Ladies Open in June so clearly knows how to get the job done.
With two LET titles, Blomqvist is the most decorated of those closest to Sangchan on the leaderboard but it was her compatriot Tamminen who had the most to cheer about on the centenary of Finland’s independence after acing her second hole, the 11th, with a seven iron from 140 yards.
Elsewhere, newly crowned European No.1 Georgia Hall escaped a tiring day with a pleasing two under 70, a score matched by last December’s Dubai runner-up Charley Hull. Brittany Lincicome and Aditi Ashok signed for 71s but reigning order of merit champion Beth Allen won’t have been thrilled with a 75 on her 36th birthday.
Hall can’t be beaten in this season’s OOM race and it’s just as well as she is running on empty at the LET’s season decider after successfully negotiating last week’s final stage of LPGA Tour Q-School.
“I landed from Orlando at like one o’clock yesterday [Tuesday] afternoon. Didn’t get to the hotel until three. It’s a 13-and-a-half-hour flight and I didn’t sleep. So I had a good sleep last night but still a bit jet-lagged,” said the 21-year-old Englishwoman who is still searching for her maiden LET title.
“I kind of struggled on the back nine today but I played okay. Just some approaches to greens weren’t that great, but I’ll sort it out tomorrow and see what happens.”
In-Kyung Kim is another looking for a big Thursday after signing for a one-over 73. It left the reigning British Open champion sitting on the projected cut line but at least the South Korean slept easier than Camille Chevalier. The Rookie-of-the-Year title is the 23-year-old Frenchwoman’s to lose but she won’t be pleased with her opening 75. It gives Swede Jenny Haglund (76) and third placed Luna Soburn (70) hope, albeit of the slim variety as they’d both need Chevalier to miss the cut as well as finishing at least second. Yuan has a mathematical shout too if Chevalier misses the weekend but would also need Haglund, Soburn and others to finish down the standings.