MICHELLE ELLIS in action at last years Australian Ladies Masters. AAP
MICHELLE ELLIS in action at last years Australian Ladies Masters. AAP

Michelle Opens the way and sits equal fifth

By STEVE SPINKS and AAP sport@northernstar.com.au CASINO professional Michelle Ellis has finished equal fifth on the first day of the Australian Women’s Open at Melbourne’s Kingston Heath Golf Course.

Only months after considering quitting the sport she loves, Ellis was an early clubhouse leader after she shot a one under par 72 but Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom (70) claimed the overnight lead.

Wikstrom’s round included six birdies and three bogeys all achieved after an indoor preparation at home in Finland.

Wikstrom completed her round in steady rain, but when the weather cleared the golf didn’t improve.

Korean Hee Young Park, Kiwi Sarah Nicholson and Australian Katherine Hull were equal second at two under after shooting rounds of 71.

Ellis is tied with fellow Australians Karrie Webb, Lindsay Wright, Kristie Smith and Frances Bondad as well as Korean Ji-Yai Shin in third place.

Poor weather delayed the start of the open and led to difficulties as the ladies played on.

Only two of Kingston Heath’s four par fives were within reach of most players.

But the greater difficulty was with the par fours, several of which also required three shots between tee and green.

Five of Kingston Heath’s par fours are beyond 370m, the longest of them 395m which played at an average of more than 4.5 shots.

Oddly, it proved as difficult as the 335m 13th, one of the shortest par fours.

Despite the wet weather, Ellis managed to hit 95 per cent of the fairways with her driving which placed her in the top five for the day.

She also made the green in regulation strokes on 14 of the 18 holes.

However, Ellis’ putting was another story where she fell to rank 43rd.

Today Ellis will tee off at 12.55pm and play alongside Swede Lotta Wahlin and Korean Ji-Na Lim.



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