Pune : Golfer Gursimar Badwal, who won twice last season, played her best round in more than a year and a half to take a whopping five-shot lead at the end of the first round of the second leg of the Hero Womens Pro Tour at the Oxford Golf Resort here on Wednesday.
Gursimar last shot a 68 at Prestige Golfshire in Bengaluru in the ninth leg of the 2017 season when she won back-to-back events. On Wednesday, Kapurthala's Gursimar, who turns 26 in a month's time, had five birdies against one bogey on the Par-72 course here.
A big bunch of four players, led by last week's winner Neha Tripathi, Gaurika Bishnoi, Amandeep Drall and rookie Sifat Alag, trailed her by five shots with 73 each.
Tvesa Malik, winner of the 2018 Hero Order of Merit, playing her first event of 2019, shot 74 and could well have been in the second-placed bunch but for a closing bogey on 18th.
Gursimar began with a string of five pars before finding birdies on Par-4 sixth and Par-3 eighth to turn in two-under.
On the back nine, she added a birdie on 10th, but gave away her only shot of the day on the 370-yard Par-4 12th. She made up with a birdie on 15th and closed the day with a birdie on the par-4 18th.
Amandeep, who had three wins last season all in the space of four starts in the middle of the season, was fourth last week with 72-72 in the final two rounds. On Wednesday, she had three birdies against four bogeys for her 73 in the first round.
Neha had two birdies and three bogeys in the first 12 holes and parred the last six.
Gaurika could have been at par after birdies on 16th and 17th, but a bogey on 18th meant she went over par for the day.
Sifat, who had a disappointing professional debut last week, made amends with a good start that saw her play steadily for one birdie and two bogeys, all of which came in the first five holes. The remaining holes produced 13 straight pars for her 73.
Tvesa was the only player other than Gursimar to be under-par for the front nine, at one-under 35 with two birdies and a bogey. However, she dropped three shots, one each on 10th, 12th and 18th and finished at two-over 74.
Suchitra Ramesh and Afshan Fatima carded 76 each to be Tied-seventh, while experienced Smriti Mehra and rookie Ananya Datar shot 78 each to be Tied-ninth.
Dolma Rawat, Mehar Atwal and Hita Prakash will go out in the first group on Thursday morning, with Komal Chaudhary, Ayesha Kapur and Siddhi Kapoor following them in the second group.
Jyotsana Singh, Ishvari Prasanna and Sonam Chugh are in the third group, while Khushi Khanijau, Millie Saroha and Ananya Datar will make up the fourth.
Smriti, Afshan and Suchitra Ramesh go out next, to be followed by Tvesa, Gaurika and Neha in the penultimate group. The lead group with Sifat, Amandeep and Gursimar will tee off last.