By Aaron Murphy
History was made on the Race to Dubai at Vallda Golf and Country Club as a field of 78 men and 78 women teed off over the same course playing for one trophy and one prize fund of €1,000,000.
Christine Wolf became the first woman to lead a European Tour event as she shared top spot on the leaderboard with Sam Horsfield after both shot a pair of 64’s on day one of the Scandinavian Mixed Hosted by Henrik & Annika.
The men had dominated the first half of the day but in the afternoon Austrian Wolf came home in a blistering 30 to sign for a 64 and set the target at eight under.
Wolf, winner of the 2019 Hero Women's Indian Open on the Ladies European Tour, was bogey free with six birdies and an eagle, picking up four shots in her final four holes to take her place in the history books with her mum on the bag.
“I started quite well and birdied the first two par fives that came up and actually hit it quite close on some of the holes but didn’t make any putts on the front nine. Then all of a sudden, I hit it close and towards the end the putter got really hot. It was nice!” said Wolf.
“I’ve been hitting it really well especially my drives, they’re down the middle. I know I can hit it really hard, and it will still stay straight. I’m trusting my game.
“We love competing against the guys, we’ve had a few mixed events at home. It’s just fun. At home there’s a lot of guys I play against, and I really like competing against them.”
Englishman Horsfield birdied two of his last three holes to join Wolf, a shot ahead of countrymen Steven Brown and Ashley Chesters, Spaniard Pep Angles and Finn Kalle Samooja.
Horsfield claimed two wins on the UK Swing last season and while he then had a spell out with a back injury, he has not missed a beat since his return with two top fives and no missed cuts in his six events on the 2021 Race to Dubai. The 24-year-old birdied all four of the par fives over the Gothenburg layout on day one and felt that was the key to his success.
“It was just really solid. I haven’t really been taking advantage of the par fives this year. So that was my main goal. I hit every fairway and played them in four under today. That gets you going – four under right there, toss in a couple more and it’s eight under.” said Horsfield.
“It was definitely different but I really enjoyed it. (Alice Houston) was really good, I think she made four birdies in a row on the back nine. I didn’t really know what to expect, to be completely honest with you. But she played really well and I had a great time.
After a 12 month delay due to the Covid-19 pandemic and days of seeing the men and women on the range and practising together, the action did not disappoint when competitive shots were finally hit in the European Tour's first fully strokeplay event.
Tournament hosts Henrik Stenson and Annika Sorenstam were playing together and they finished at two under and one over respectively, with playing partner and fellow Scandinavian great Thomas Bjørn also at one over.
Jonathan Caldwell had a rollercoaster opening round which saw him bogey the first, then drop two birdies and an eagle to make the turn on three under par. He began his back nine with three back-to-back bogeys and was level par standing on the 13th tee. The Clandeboye man rallied well picking up birdies on 13, 14 and 16 before dropping a shot on the par-4 17th to finish two under for the day and in a share of 56th place.