Indian golfer Avani Prashanth continued her superb form by shooting a bogey-free 4-under 68 to take a share of the early lead in the first round of the individual section of the World Amateur Team Championship for Espirito Santo Trophy in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Avan, who won the Queen Sirikit Cup and a pro title, while being an amateur at a LET Access Tour event in Europe, started on the 10th tee at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and had two sets of back-to-back birdies, one on each half of the course. Avani, who also has Top-10 finishes in two other LET professional events in Kenya Ladies Open and Hero Women’s Indian Open, started with seven pars and then birdied the 17th and 18th.
She added two more birdies on the fifth and sixth and finished with 68. She was tied for the top individual spot with Cayetana Fernandez Garcia-Poggio of Spain and Sara Byrne of Ireland.
India’s other women golfers, Mannat Brar (72) at T-35 and Nishna Patel (75) at T-76 had modest opening days.
In the team segment, India was tied third, with Spain in the lead at 7-under as the two best players’ scores are counted from each team.
For Spain, the counting scores came from Cayetana Fernandez Garcia-Poggio and Julia Lopez Ramirez (69).
“The course set-up is such that it is difficult to keep the ball on the fairway for long hitters and then keeping it on the green was a challenge too. This meant my up-and-down game had to be sharp and I made 26 putts,” Avani said.
“I am very happy I was able to keep bogeys off my card and to play bogey-free on such a course is always a great feeling.” Of the three co-leaders, only Avani was bogey-free.
After seven pars, Avani’s first birdie came following a superb approach from about 117 yards to four feet with a gap wedge. Immediately after that, she hit her third shot just short of the green on the gettable Par-5 on the 18th and then made an up-and-down for a birdie.
Her next birdie came on the fifth, where she hit a sand wedge from 105 yards to six inches for a tap-in birdie. A fourth birdie came on the sixth when she hit her second shot from 201 yards to 17 feet with a 5-Iron and holed it for her fourth birdie.
The second-placed team was Ireland with Sara Byrne (68) and Beth Coulter (71) contributing and for India, the counting scores came from Avani (68) and Mannat (72).
India was tied for third with the star-studded Korean, German, and Canadian teams. The highly favoured US and Swedish teams were tied for 10th and Australia were tied seventh.