So sick was Charley Hull on Wednesday, that she left La Reserva Club de Sotogrande midway through the Pro-Am to head back to her hotel room to recuperate.
What turned out to be a nasty bug seemed troublesome alright: Hull lost three kilograms before returning on Thursday morning for the first round of the inaugural Aramco Team Series – Sotogrande.
Then she went out, in the stifling heat in southern Spain, and shot a blemish-free 65 to share the lead in both the team and individual events that run simultaneously in this new Golf Saudi-owned entry on the Ladies European Tour (LET).
“I’ll probably get my manager to get me sick more often, shoot low scores,” Hull quipped after signing for 7-under, which moved her alongside American Alison Lee at the summit.
That’s where Team Hull are on their leaderboard, too, after Isabelle Boineau, Katja Pogacar and amateur Andreas Feller helped lift the group to 14-under. After the early wave had finished at Sotogrande, they shared top spot together with teams captained by Swedish pair Caroline Hedwall and Linnea Strom.
“Yesterday I had a sickness bug all day,” said Hull, a two-time winner on the LET and its 2013 Rookie of the Year. “I literally lost 3kg overnight, which is pretty crazy. I was pretty dehydrated. I didn’t get to see the back nine of the golf course, but I shot four-under on it blind, so I felt like I played pretty well.”
All things considered, “pretty well” was an understatement. Thursday’s first round provided further evidence that Hull clearly enjoys the novel format. In its first iteration, the Aramco Team Series comprises four events, all 54-hole and boasting a $1 million prize fund. The series teed off last month in London, before it will take in New York and Jeddah later this year.
Hull finished third in the individual standings in London. Wearing two hats, figuratively, this week, as captain the Englishwoman selected teammate Boineau of France and was then randomly assigned Slovakia’s Pogacar. Patently, and with all four colleagues - Feller, the amateur, included - contributing to their overall score, they gelled pretty well.
“It was really good,” Hull said. “It was great fun out there today - such a chilled, relaxed group. It was lovely. I just had so much fun. It was great to play with these two girls.
“I just like [the format]. It’s a really relaxed event. You go out there, have a lot of fun. Like today, I was learning some French on the golf course, thanks to Isabelle. It was just a good laugh.”
Pushed by the LET inhouse interviewer as to what vocabulary she’d picked up, Hull responded: “I’ll just say ‘Oui’ for now. I don’t want to embarrass myself on TV.”
Boineau, whose victory at the 2016 Ladies Scottish Open remains her sole win on the circuit, was obviously delighted simply to be in front of the camera.
“It’s nice to get interviewed, thanks to you guys,” she said, nodding towards the two teammates next to her. “It’s pretty rare these days on the LET for me. But I’m happy that Charley chose us to play with her. It’s great, and she played very well today.”
On the format, Pogacar added: “It’s different for sure, but I enjoy it really much because we’re a team and we’re working together and it’s always fun.”
Elsewhere, United States star Paula Creamer continued her road back from injury by captaining her team to 13-par, meaning they sit solo second. In the individual event, Creamer shot a 2-under 70. Meanwhile, Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson represents the closest challenger to Hull and Lee, at 5-under.