Kristinsdottir shines in historic Abu Dhabi women’s golf opener

24 year-old sets the pace for an action-packed inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open

Iceland’s Olafia Kristinsdottir leads a field of the world’s best women’s golfers, as the history-making inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open tees off at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
Twenty-four year old Kristinsdottir fired a 65 to finish the opening round seven under par on the stunning beachfront course, one shot ahead of the chasing pack of America’s Beth Allen, Australia’s Sarah Kemp, Germany’s Olivia Cowan and Finland’s Minea Blomqvist who all finished on six under par. Christine Wolfe, Isi Gabsa and Gemma Dryburgh follow closely behind on five under.
Starting the morning with a birdie-filled front nine, the 24-year-old was pleased with her performance despite difficult circumstances, capping her opening round off with a final two birdies and two pars.
Kristinsdottir said: “It was a great round. I was feeling a bit blue today because yesterday my aunt passed away so I think today’s round was for her, so it’s great to have a round like this.
“My putts went in the hole and I was hitting it close, so that was great. I was doing everything well today. I was calm.”
35-year old Beth Allen commented earlier this week that it would be ‘great’ to win the milestone event, and her round today certainly backs up her statement. The American – who currently sits in second place on the Order of Merit cup standings – racked up a total of seven birdies throughout her round to follow closely behind Kristinsdottir.
Allen said: “I played really well. I putted really well. I really like this golf course; I liked it the first time I saw it, so I’m happy. I made a couple of 18 footers and the others, I hit it close. My putting inside 10 feet was really good.”
Commenting on the Order of Merit, she added: “It’s on my mind, but I’m trying to do what I’ve been doing all year. I want it really bad so of course I’m thinking about it.”
Kemp was pleased with her opening round of 66 and praised the history-making new tournament.
She said: “It was nice and solid. I holed a few good birdie putts and my putter was behaving nicely. The tournament’s great and the course is awesome. The girls can’t say enough good things about how it’s going.”
India’s newest emerging talent, 18 year old Aditi Ashok was in the leading pack for the majority of the day with a slew of birdies in the front nine, before shooting a trio of bogeys on the 12th, 14th and 17th to finish at three under par.
Commenting on today and her goals for tomorrow’s round, Ashok said: “My back nine could have been a lot better. I’ll try and play the back nine how I played the front nine and put myself in good positions off the tee and on the greens so that will make it better tomorrow.”
His Excellency Aref Al Awani, General Secretary at Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC), owner of the event, said: “A new milestone in Abu Dhabi’s journey as a global sports destination was reached today, as we teed off the capital’s first ever women’s professional golf tournament.
He added: “We’ve seen world-class action from the Ladies European Tour’s top stars today and it promises to be an inspiring and action-packed few days. We encourage everyone to come down to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and be a part of history being made.”
Away from the action on the course, the tournament village provided a sun-soaked day of fun and entertainment with golfing star appearances and a host of activities also on offer.
European Solheim Cup team captain Annika Sorenstam held a masterclass in which she shared advice and gave a special insight into the secrets behind her spectacular golf career to a packed audience. The Swede then proved she still holds the skills that made her the greatest female player ever, playing a variation of shots for the crowd with pin-point perfection.
Meanwhile, ex-professional golfer turned performance and movement coach Claudine Foong, supported by yoga-inspired, technical athletic apparel company lululemon, led a special ELDOA and Myofascial Stretching Class to the delight of the fitness fanatic visitors who took part. The class is open to public and will run again tomorrow (Thursday) at 10:00am.
The Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open is free to attend and runs until Saturday 5 November 2016 at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
The FBMLO is sponsored by: FBMA, Abu Dhabi Sports Council, TDIC, Al Masaood, CNBC, Etihad, Marriott Downtown Abu Dhabi and Omega. The event is free to attend and more information is available from www.fbmladiesopen.com.

Dubai Gazette