Nicollet opens with 78 in NZ Open, Matharu shoots 73

Christchurch: Sharmila Nicollet, playing in her first event on the Ladies European Tour, had a rough start to her debut as she carded a six-over 78 in the first round of the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women`s Open, here Friday.

Sharmila played in the afternoon when the easterly breeze provided a stiff challenge after the morning players took full advantage of the still and sunny morning conditions at the Pegasus Golf and Sports Club.

Amateur Emily Perry, Europe-based Kiwi Lynnette Brooky, Kym Larratt (England) and Joanna Klatten (France) shared the lead with rounds of five-under par 67.

Nicollet, who became only the second Indian woman to qualify for the LET, started her day with three pars and then came a birdie on the par-4 fourth hole.

But thereafter she struggled, as she bogeyed fifth and eighth. On the back nine, she bogeyed the 10th, double bogeyed the 13th and added more bogeys on 15th and 18th to finish at 78 and was tied 87th. The top-50 and ties make the cut.

England-based Kiran Matharu, who is of Indian origin and was considered a prodigy when she started her career, made a modest start with a one-over 73.

She opened with a birdie on first and then had bogeys on sixth and 14th and parred the rest, as she is placed tied 49th.