Chiara Noja is on the prowl for her second Ladies European Tour title — at the age of only 16 — as she fired an excellent course record of 62 to lead by two at the end of the first day of the Investec South African Women’s Open.
The Dubai-based schoolkid got off to a hot start at Steenberg Golf Club with four birdies in her opening five holes before dropping her only shot of the day on the sixth.
Noja soon found her rhythm once again with an eagle on the eighth and rolled in a further five birdies to secure her spot on 10-under at the top of the leaderboard.
62 (-10) ✅
Steenberg GC course record ✅
Career best round ✅
Leads by two ✅@thechiaranoja 𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙨 𝙞𝙣 𝙨𝙩𝙮𝙡𝙚 𝙞𝙣 𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙝 𝘼𝙛𝙧𝙞𝙘𝙖 🤩✌️#RaiseOurGame | #InvestecSAWomensOpen pic.twitter.com/BVduqZVfPt
— Ladies European Tour (@LETgolf) March 8, 2023
“I think it was pretty consistent golf in general,” said the German, who won the Aramco Team Series Jeddah Individual Title in November. “I didn’t feel like I was swinging it incredibly well all day.
“I put myself in a good position for birdies, my putting was definitely good and to hole some of those putts was really good.
“My wedges were on point and I think that’s what we’ll try to do going into the next few days. Depending on the wind, we’ll see exactly how much we will need to go under par.”
Being still so young in her professional career, Noja worked hard on adding new shots to her bag over the off-season.
She explained: “Over the winter I’ve done a lot of wedge work and a lot of the shots that I’ve learned to hit over this week and the start of the season I didn’t have in the bag last year.
“There’s growth in that sense and also trusting myself a little better. I learned that in Jeddah last year and I’m trying to commit to everything and not be afraid to fail.”
South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai sits second on eight-under having produced a round of 64 on the first day of competition.