Dryburgh leads, great start for Davies

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Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh shares the early first-round lead with Carlota Ciganda, while 57-year-old Dame Laura Davies is just two shots behind on day one of the Cambia Portland Classic.

By Keith Jackson

Last Updated: 16/09/21 11:41pm

Gemma Dryburgh shares the early lead after a 68

Gemma Dryburgh shares the early lead after a 68

Gemma Dryburgh shares the early lead after a 68

Gemma Dryburgh and Carlota Ciganda set the early first-round pace at the Cambia Portland Classic as Dame Laura Davies also enjoyed an excellent start in Oregon.

Dryburgh, a three-time winner on the Rose Ladies Series, fired an opening four-under 68 to earn a share of the clubhouse lead with Solheim Cup star Ciganda, while Davies returned a commendable 70 with fellow-veteran Trish Johnson on her bag.

The highlight of Dryburgh’s round was a 98-yard hole-out for eagle at the seventh, and the Scot also carded five birdies against three bogeys as she enjoyed the lead in an LPGA Tour event for the first time.

Dryburgh holed a 98-yard wedge for eagle at the seventh Dryburgh holed a 98-yard wedge for eagle at the seventh

Dryburgh holed a 98-yard wedge for eagle at the seventh

“I’m very happy,” said the 28-year-old. “I actually holed out on the seventh hole, so that was a fun one. People were watching as well, so that was good.

“I had 98 yards, just hit a little gap-wedge and hit it pretty perfect. I actually thought it was going long when I saw it on the green, but it just landed perfectly just short of the pin and rolled right in like a little putt, so it was perfect.

“And the hole before, I made a really good bogey putt, so that kind of kept the momentum going. So I turned on one under and then made a few birdies and managed to birdie the last with a little tap-in, so that was nice.

“I just don’t want to get ahead of myself. Like I say, one shot at a time and do the same again really. It will be in the afternoon, so hopefully can take advantage of the warmer weather, but I’m sure the wind will get up as well. We’ll see.”

Ciganda made seven birdies in a round blighted by a double-bogey six at the 14th, a mistake which would cost her the outright lead, and the Spaniard was also delighted to see Davies flying high on the leaderboard.

The 57-year-old, with 55-year-old Johnson making her debut as an LPGA Tour caddie, defied her age on a punishing West Linn track, making birdies at two of the first three holes and responding to dropped shots at 11 and 15 with further birdies at the 16th – where she holed from 30 feet – and the 18th.

Dame Laura Davies defied her age to shoot 70 on a tough track Dame Laura Davies defied her age to shoot 70 on a tough track

Dame Laura Davies defied her age to shoot 70 on a tough track

“Well, it’s obviously a lot harder for Trish – she’s no spring chicken either,” Davies said. “It’s just tough walking, but it’s the same for everyone, no matter how old you are really, you still got to get around.

“I must admit in practice the other day I found it really exhausting, but when you’re playing and trying to hit good shots, you don’t really notice the hills. Maybe if you’re not playing so well you notice the hills, but today because I was hitting it good it was just a lovely even keel and pace of play was really good.”

Johnson offered to caddie for Davies shortly after the Solheim Cup, where Davies was vice-captain for the victorious European team while Johnson was working as a commentator and reporter for Sky Sports.

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“We didn’t know we were on this golf course,” Davies added. “Maybe if we had known she might not have come because she has got tournaments to play herself. I keep saying, ‘Don’t do yourself any damage’.

“If her back is starting to feel tender she might have to give it up, but she’s as stubborn as I am. She’ll still be here at the end.”