Rebecca Lee-Bentham marked International Women’s Day in spectacular fashion at Turtle Hill Golf Club yesterday.
The PGA of Canada player fired a three-under-par 51 during the opening round of the 36-hole Grey Goose World Par 3 Championship to carve out a one-shot lead.
Lee-Bentham, who is making her debut in the tournament, was a model of consistency despite the breezy conditions and slick greens as she carded five birdies and two bogeys.
She hit 16 greens in regulation to top the leaderboard at the halfway stage of the tournament.
“I just had a lot of fun out there, that was my main goal,” she said. “I had a really fun group, easy going guys and it was fun. I had just one three-putt and a bad chip but other than that I was pretty happy with my game today.
“I am happy to be where I am and I think it’s great to lead this tournament on International Women’s Day. This is my first time here and it’s the nicest par- three course I’ve played.”
The 2012 LPGA Rookie of the Year, who has accumulated $197,173 in career earnings, will now look to protect her slim advantage going the final round today.
“I will go in with the same mindset as today,” added Lee-Bentham, who is the first women’s player to hold the 18-hole lead in the event’s ten-year history. “Hopefully, the nerves don’t get to me playing against these guys.”
A shot back, tied for second, are former European Tour player Barry Lane and PGA of England player Simon Lilly, who both came in at two-under 52.
“It was nice to come back and actually hit the ball pretty solid all the way around and putt nicely,” said Lane, who carded nicely,” said Lane, who carded four birdies and two bogeys.
“It’s a really tricky golf course even, although it’s not really windy today. I’m very happy with my round.”
Two shots off the lead tied for fourth are Bermuda’s Daniel Augustus and Canadian Bill Walsh, who produced rounds of one-under 53.
“I had a game plan, middle of the green, then try and make some ten footers,” said two-times winner Augustus, who carded two birdies and a bogey to thrust himself thick in the hunt.
“I made a ten-foot putt on the last hole for par, but I missed a few of those for birdie today. It was up and down today.”
Alone in seventh at even par is Augustus’s compatriot Camiko Smith.
“I had a lot of chances to make a bunch of birdies and go low, but it just didn’t happen,” Smith said.
Bermuda’s Christopher Phillips leads the amateur men’s division by a single shot.