The Swede, who survived a cancer scare two years ago, fired a 66 to take a one-shot lead into tomorrow's second round at the Emirates Golf Club.
Lotta Wahlin leads after first round of Dubai Ladies Masters
DUBAI //Lotta Wahlin, who survived a cancer scare two years ago, fired a 66 yesterday to take a one-shot lead into today's second round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at the Emirates Golf Club.
The 28 year old from Sweden mixed seven birdies with a lone bogey over the Majlis Course to take the clubhouse lead ahead of Becky Brewerton of Wales and is seven shots clear of Michelle Wie, the highest-ranked player in the field.
Wahlin, whose career was disrupted in 2009 when she was diagnosed with skin cancer, sank a 26-foot birdie putt on the 18th to finish her round six-under par.
The Swede is two shots clear of a four-way tie for third and four shots ahead of Lexi Thompson (70), the 16-year-old American, who is the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour.
"I finally had a good round, finally was able to make all the putts," Wahlin said. "I didn't really make any mistakes and I was just playing very solid and made all my putts pretty much."
Wahlin was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2009 while in Dubai and only played a few events on the European Ladies Tour last year.
The two-time European Ladies Tour winner has fully recovered.
"I just have to be careful. I mean I have that kind of skin which is quite sensitive to the sun," Wahlin said. "I thought 'is it really worth it to be out on the golf course in the sunny countries or is it better that I just quit playing golf and do something else?' But I still have to live my life and golf is my life, or a big part of my life."
Wahlin, who has struggled since returning to the tour full-time this year, said her cancer has given her a fresh perspective on the sport.
"Golf is not so important anymore," Wahlin said. "If I have a bad round, I'm still disappointed. But it's not the end of the world like it used to be. So that is a good thing."
Brewerton carded six birdies and a bogey. It was a marked improvement from the Indian Open, where the Welsh golfer finished 74th.
"It was just completely different. It's really hard to say sometimes what makes it change. For some reason, I played well," Brewerton said. "I think it was just a different attitude."
Thompson recovered from a slow start to make three birdies on her final three holes. The teenager came into the tournament as one of the favourites, having won the Navistar LPGA Classic in September.
"I struggled with my putter until the 16th hole," Thompson said. "Then I figured some things out so it went well for the last three. I hit it well, just putts didn't drop."
Wie, meanwhile, had trouble with the greens and missed several birdie chances.
"Frustrating," Wie said. "It was one of those days where nothing went in and nothing went my way. It was pretty frustrating that I was one-over par."
Sana Tufail, the 15-year-old schoolgirl from Abu Dhabi, who plays off a plus one handicap, hit a solid one-over-par 73.
"It was a relatively steady, consistent round," she said. "I started with a bogey, so it wasn't the greatest start, but I chipped in for par [on her third hole] and after that fairly eventful start, managed to keep my game going."