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Nyanchama, best Kenyan as Strom taking Kenya Open Ladies Open lead

Sweden golfer Linnea Strom has taken an early lead at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open Golf championships at the par 72 PGA Baobab Vipingo Ridge Course in Kilifi.

Strom fired a total of four under par 68 to top the leaderboard, giving herself a two-shot cushion heading into the second round on Friday in the 72-hole tournament. 

She carded a decent first nine, hitting birdies at the second, sixth and seventh holes but dropping shots at the fourth and eighth holes for a total of 35. She had an excellent back nine, carding a total of 33 courtesy of birdies at the 11th, 13th, 14th, 15th and 18th. Her only blemish on the back nine came at the par-4, 16th, where she dropped two shots.

“The wind was tricky out there, and the course was pretty firm, so if you don’t hit it where you want to, it can pretty much bounce anywhere. I played steady today, I had eight birdies, but I made some mistakes as well, but overall, I am pretty happy with the score; there are still some things I need to figure out, especially in the right to left wind, but hopefully, I can work that out tomorrow and continue to play well.

“I don’t mind the wind, when I play in the wind, I have to remind myself to be a bit more relaxed, and that’s something I have been trying to work on in the last year. So today, I knew I had to be relaxed to have a good swing and keep a good tempo, so I think I managed to do that well today. I had a good game plan, and I enjoyed it out there with my caddie. Practice has been going pretty well, I had a couple of good practice days here, and I like the course, but I didn’t really have any expectations.”

“I’ve been working on a few things in my game and my swing at the moment, and that helps scoring-wise because I take the expectations off, and I just want to go out there to keep on improving and work on the stuff I’ve been working on.”

Finishing the round in second was Emma Grechi from France, who carded a round of 2-under par 70. She carded 35 in the first nine, having holed birdies at the second and eighth holes, with the only dropped shot coming first. On the back nine, she carded a similar score of 35 with birdies at the 11th, 13th, and 15th and single dropped shots at the 10th and the 12th.

Speaking after the round, Emma said: 

“I had many ups and downs, but I just had to focus on my strategy and hit the greens and make the putts. I started in the morning, but after the first nine, I had some wind, so I had to take on the flags and be aggressive and try to make my putts, and all that happened, so that’s good. I came here to see if what I worked on in the winter is working or if I have to try something else, but I think it’s fine – I’m happy, and I think my coach will be happy.”

Amy Boulden from Wales and Julia Engstrom from Sweden joined Linnea and Emma as the only four players to play under par. Both finished tied in third, having carded rounds of 71. 

It was a tough start for the Kenyan contingent, with Bhavi Shah and Faith Chemutai occupying the bottom two places on the leaderboard with opening rounds of 20-over par and 17-over par, respectively. Naomi Wafula ended the round tied in 87th with a score of 11-over par, while Mercy Nyanchama ended the round as the highest-ranked Kenyan at 7-over par.

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