Lydia Ko in the hunt at New Zealand Women's Open
16 Feb 2012
see also: Lydia Ko Rankings

Lydia Ko
Lydia Ko

PEGASUS, New Zealand (Feb. 17, 2012) -- Waikato amateur Emily Perry and European-based Kiwi Lynnette Brooky share the first round lead at the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open hosted by Christchurch. The 44-year-old Brooky, for so long an advocate for a national open but playing for the first time, fired a five-under par 67 to share the lead with Kym Larratt (England) and Joanna Klatten (France).

Joining them late in the day, with a brilliant birdie on the final hole, was Cambridge golfer Emily Perry, who was thoroughly impressive in the more challenging afternoon conditions. Most of the first day leaders took full advantage of the still and sunny morning conditions before the freshening easterly breeze provided more of a test in the afternoon at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club.

The most talked-about Kiwi golfer, 14 year old Lydia Ko, had to play second fiddle to fellow Srixon Academy amateur Perry, who showed the benefit of recent good form across the Tasman. There are nine players sharing fifth place on four under, one shot ahead of Ko, who had a big gallery following her progress this morning. The World No.1 amateur mixed five birdies with two dropped shots in her 69.

The fine conditions led to 33 rounds under-par, leaving some more favoured players with work to do including defending champion Kristie Smith, who shot a one-under 71, and compatriot Sarah Kemp, twice-runner-up at the New Zealand Open, who shot a one-over 73.

Brooky, a four-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, has not been in the winner’s circle for seven years but has made the start she wanted to make her mark on the event which is dear to her heart.“I think the heavens are helping me a bit so that is great,” Brooky said. “For the first time in a few years, I think eight, I’ve gone out there and not been lined up with my putting. I started to feel too stiff that way so we left myself alone today and I felt more free and the putts rolled better. “I do want to have another win before I retire. And my coach says why only one? He has done a lot of work on me and I have my nephew on my bag so we will see how it goes.”Perry, 21, has come of age in recent times as a golfer and was unfazed by the stiff afternoon breeze. “The wind, I liked it. Holes 12 and 13 were playing really tough but I was telling myself that every good shot today would set me up well for tomorrow,” Perry said.“It’s really exciting. My heart is racing. I stayed really calm and positive and stuck to what I have been practicing. They key to it is keeping calm and just the belief that I am a really good player. “

Klatten had extra motivation today after serious illness to close friends back home in France.“A few days ago I heard that the dad of one of my best friends is very sick. She lost her sister three years ago of the same pancreatic cancer so it has been really upsetting me and I just want to play for them,” said Klatten.

The Frenchwoman is enjoying her first stint to this country. “You can feel the sun here. No pollution. It is different from Paris.”The biggest gallery among the 2050 first day attendance was reserved for Ko, who has handled the demands of public and press with a maturity beyond her years. She was satisfied with her start to the Open after placing seventh and fourth here over the past two years.“Guy (coach Guy Wilson) and I set the goal of a 69 and it was achieved but I would have been happier with a four under,” said Ko. “I was really surprised there were there more people here on the first round than there were on the final round of last week [at the Australian Women’s Open]. It is good to see New Zealand people surrounding our group rather than Australians and the support yeah I manage it. At first I was like “Oh my God a lot of people are watching” but now I am okay. “

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