Susana Ribeiro became the first Portuguese player to lead a tournament that counts towards the women's world professional ranking and also the Olympic ranking, when she spent nearly an hour and a half at the top of the leader board of the 7th Ladies Azores Ladies Open.  

The two-time Portuguese professional champion finished the first round with a one under par 71, her best start ever in the € 35,000 tournament hosted by Stream Plan, putting herself in the title fight, tied for 7th place, one shot behind a group of six players composed of France’s Emilie Alonso and Eva Gilly, Belgian Manon de Roey, Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso of Italy, England’s Meghan MacLaren and Lucie Hinnerova of the Czech Republic, who all shot a two under par, 70.

The only other Portuguese player in the field, Joana de Sá Pereira, made her best ever start at the Azores Ladies Open, with a three over par, 75. De Sá Pereira is part of the group tied for 33rd place and is therefore in a good position to make the cut tomorrow.

"I started well with a birdie, I hit good shots and had many opportunities for birdie. I missed some but in general I am very happy with my performance. It's my best round on this course but it could have been even better if I had managed to convert some of the many birdie putts I had. I also had a putt for eagle from three metres, "said Susana Ribeiro, 26, who recorded three birdies and two bogeys in her round. 

"I have been a professional for almost two years, it's just the second time I'm playing in Portugal and it's a great pleasure to play at home," said Joana de Sá Pereira, who lives in France. The final nine was very good and with everything that happened to me, it was not bad. From one ball out of bounds, the other into a bunker from which it was impossible to get out, and a ball that stayed in the canopy of a tree.”

The difficult greens at Terceira have been the biggest test for the players and only nine of the 66 participants were able to beat par, on a day when it was mainly dry and there was very little wind.

Among the six leaders is Englishwoman Meghan MacLaren, who last week played in the LET’s Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco, finishing in a tie for 25th place. The 22-year-old, who earned limited status on the main tour at the Lalla Aicha Tour School last December, recorded six birdies in her first round.

"I played well, I just made a mistake on the 15th hole because my drive was out of bounds but I recovered well with two good birdies after that, which removed the bitter taste from my mouth. It's nice to be in this position, it's challenging but there's still a long way to go, "said the daughter of the senior manager of the European Senior Tour.


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