Golf: Ko leads NZ to third at world champs

New Zealand made an impressive start to the Espirito Santo world amateur team championship, carding a one under par team total to be in a four-way share of third after a dramatic day at the Gloria Golf Club in Antalya, Turkey.

The Kiwis will begin round two only two shots behind two-time champions Sweden who lead Latvia by one shot.

World No 1 amateur Lydia Ko led the way for New Zealand with a two under par 70 and she was well supported by Waikato's Emily Perry, who scored a 73, to help the Kiwis to a one under par 143 team total. Auckland golfer Munchin Keh had the non-counting score of 93.

New Zealand played the more difficult Old Course and were under pressure early as Keh got off to the worst possible start. She made a disastrous seven over par 10 on the par three seventh and then a triple bogey on the par four eighth to effectively rule her first round score out of contention.

That put the pressure on Ko and Perry and they rallied in impressive fashion.

Ko traded a bogey and birdie to make the turn in even par before she delivered one of the shots of the first round - a magnificent three wood to the 12th green to set up an eagle opportunity which she duly converted.

The 15-year-old is one shot off the pace on the individual leaderboard behind Sweden's Daniela Holmqvist.

"It's a solid start," Ko said. "My putting stroke felt good but the lines weren't correct so not many dropped. Em said she putted well so I'm happy that hers dropped instead.

"We're up on the leaderboard, but all we have got to do is play our own game. We can't control what the other players are doing. I am loving every moment of this event."

The effort of Perry was just as impressive.

The 21-year-old got off to a slow start with three bogeys and a birdie on the front nine to turn in two over par. But she saved her best for the back nine picking up birdies on the 10th and 13th before dropping a shot at her final hole.

"It was a good day at the office today," the New Zealand stroke play champion said. "The strongest part of my game today was definitely my putting. I holed so many par putts from around six to eight feet and that was closely followed by my bunker shots they were really good as well.

"There is a lot more trouble out here than in New Zealand course but it reminded me a lot of Tauranga because it's quite narrow off the tee. The greens are really nice and it was easy to make up and down if you were putting well."

Keh, who won this year's New Zealand amateur championships, was disappointed with her forgettable debut.

"I didn't play how I wanted to today," the 19-year-old said. "I struggled getting back into my rhythm after the two bad holes but I know now what not to do.

"The team is doing really well and we will be playing on the new course tomorrow so hopefully all the bad has gone and tomorrow's a new round to enjoy."

- APNZ

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