Four Saudi golf courses earn global sustainability certification

JEDDAH: Five players found themselves at the top of the Aramco Team Series in Jeddah after Thursday’s action at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club.

Ursula Wikstrom, Nicole Garcia, Virginia Elena Carta, Ana Pelaez Trivino and Johanna Gustavsson topped the leaderboard after day one, with Chiara Noja and Lucie Malchirand well positioned one stroke behind at four under par.

The early tee times were greeted by calm and warm conditions, while the later starters had to contend with increasing winds in the afternoon.

“I wasn’t very good at the start, my driving wasn’t great, but I rode really well. I had some great putts and I’ll just try to keep that momentum going for tomorrow,” Gustavsson said. “It was just a good, solid round, and it was a lot of fun. I had a great time with the team and that’s the thing with these events, you think about the team score and try to birdie for the team, not yourself. It’s just a bonus. »

Gustavsson won the team event at the Aramco Team Series event in New York in October, so he is no stranger to success in the World Series of Golf and added: “It’s obviously a bonus every times if you finish well in the team event that’s so nice bonus obviously we’ll try to finish as high as possible I haven’t looked at the scores yet but being away in the morning we can maybe score well and put some pressure on them.

Individual co-leader Wikstrom believes her game is shaping up well ahead of the rest of the tournament and comments, “Recently I’ve started playing a bit better, so things are looking a bit better. This morning, I didn’t feel very good standing over the ball when I arrived on the shooting range. I thought I would never go to the golf course today, but when I got there I started to feel a little better.

“The golf course is getting really good. Ride better. The greens are much firmer so it plays pretty well. I like the course. I like the place. I like to play here, and this type of course suits me and my game anyway,” she added.

Team Helen Kreuzer had a stellar day in the team competition, finishing their run at 22 under par, six ahead of their closest competitors, Team Linnea Strom, Team Nicole Garcia and the Ana Pelaez Trivino team.

Kreuzer had a great start to the day, entering the tournament as first reserve, she was given short notice that Becky Brewerton had retired and she would take her place on the court and her role as team captain.

Kreuzer said: “Yes, I was the first reserve this week and I didn’t know if I was going to enter the field, then last night I had a little warning that someone might withdraw and at 5.00 in the morning they texted me and said you were on the pitch, 7:14 a.m. Obviously I’m happy to play, it was a lot of fun and luckily I played well!

Rounding out the Kreuzer squad were Virginia Elena Carta, Lina Boqvist and Saudi Arabia-based Championship fan Lujain Khalil, just 16 years old.

The teenager was delighted after shooting one of her best rounds ever and added: ‘I started golf just three years ago in COVID-19 and have never seen myself here in three years, honestly.

“I still have to learn to take my time. It’s a lot of hard work. I’m glad to see it’s paying off. I am very privileged to be here. I had one of the best laps of my life so far. They were the best team you could ask for, and we had fun but today we focused, we played well and I’m very lucky to be able to say that I’m with the team that is in head.

“Usually I’m nervous when I play with professionals. But I saw the smile on the first tee and the energy, that we’re here to win it. But you know what, I have to be me. I have to show them that I really want it too. I really enjoyed it there and felt very comfortable. They are very humble people who are fun to play with.

Play was suspended early due to poor light, with Team Jessica Karlsson not yet finished, but will complete their round on Friday morning.

Michael C. Ford