By Andrew Both
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – Esther Henseleit felt sad after she thought she had bungled a chance of playing in the U.S. Women’s Open, but her emotions were at the other end of the spectrum on Thursday after a superb opening round at Country Club of Charleston.
The 20-year-old from Varel on the north coast of Germany tamed a sea breeze to card a bogey-free five-under-par 66 to trail Japanese leader Mamiko Higa by one stroke.
Henseleit thought she had blown an opportunity to play in the richest and most prestigious event in women’s golf when she collapsed late in a sectional qualifier in England, ending up as the first alternate.
“I was doing really well and then I played some stupid bogeys in the end and lost in a playoff,” she said. “I felt like there was no chance I could play and I was really sad.”
Her emotions picked up a few days later, however, when a spot opened up for her.
“When I got the message, maybe one-and-a-half weeks ago, I couldn’t imagine I’d be sitting here,” she said.
Henseleit might prove more than a one-round wonder.
She had an impressive amateur career and since turning professional early this year has been a constant leaderboard presence on the Ladies European Tour.
Henseleit showed some youthful promise as a tennis player but fell in love with golf after being introduced to the sport at age eight by mother Iris.
“I played tennis, also quite good, so I knew how to swing,” she said.
“It’s good to be here. It’s a completely new experience for me and the grandstands are huge and many people are around but I don’t feel like it’s much for me.
“I really like playing in front of many people.”
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)