Birdies give refreshed Charley Hull a lift at Dubai Ladies Masters

More importantly, the five-under 67 kept Gwladys Nocera, the only other contender for the European No 1 spot, in Hull’s rear-view mirror, two shots behind, writes John McAuley.
Charley Hull lines up her putt on the ninth hole on Day 1 of the Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Charley Hull lines up her putt on the ninth hole on Day 1 of the Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // If ever asked to extol the virtues of a good night’s sleep, just point to Charley Hull’s transformation at the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.

The front-runner in the Ladies European Tour’s Order of Merit landed late Monday following a long-haul flight from Orlando, Florida, then in the pro-am the following day proceeded to play well below her status. The signs were not positive.

Read more: ‘Easygoing’ Feng is ruthless and joins Koch in the lead at Dubai Ladies Masters

Beginning the round with six golf balls in her bag, a clearly jet-lagged Hull trudged off the Majlis course heavy-headed and a little light in equipment. A quick inventory confirmed she had a solitary ball remaining.

“It definitely wasn’t good at all,” Hull said.

So she retreated, got some much-needed sleep and returned on Wednesday morning bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

It obviously paid off, because the English teenager concluded the first round tied for third, one shot behind Carin Koch and Shanshan Feng.

More importantly, the five-under 67 kept Gwladys Nocera, the only other contender for the European No 1 spot, in Hull’s rear-view mirror, two shots behind.

There was not much the Frenchwoman could do, to be fair: Hull got going with a birdie on her seventh hole, then proceeded to rattle off five birdies in the next seven. It seems that sleep worked wonders.

“Yeah, I just felt fresh out there, so it was a lot better,” said Hull, 18. “After the pro-am, I was just like, ‘Oh God’, so I just relaxed last night with my sister and forgot about it. Still haven’t had much sleep these past few days.”

Perhaps sleep deprivation is why Hull appears so relaxed. After all, there is a lot riding on this week. Holding a €22,715 (Dh103,260) lead over Nocera places her in a strong position at the tour’s season finale, but Nocera is a wily campaigner who already possesses an Order of Merit title.

Hull, though, is not feeling the strain. “Tomorrow will be just another fun round in Dubai,” she said.

“I like the scenery and keep looking at all the buildings on the way round. It takes my mind off it. And I think of some random stuff, like what I’m going to wear next week when I go out with my mates; scan through what I remember was on the Topshop website.”

She certainly wears well the expectation. For her part, Nocera does not come across as too fussed, either, despite needing at least a top-four finish to overtake Hull to the seasonal crown.

An opening 69 kept things bubbling along nicely, although Nocera continued to play it cool.

“The most important thing is to enjoy the moment,” she said. “Whatever comes on Saturday, comes. Charley is playing really well. She’s doing her job, I’m doing mine – we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”

jmcauley@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter at SprtNationalUAE

Published: December 10, 2014 04:00 AM

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