Twenty-one-year-old rising star Georgia Hall cemented her place as the next big name on England's golf scene with another impressive round at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
The Bournemouth youngster, whose top-ten finish at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Ladies Open last month secured her place in next month’s Solheim Cup squad, followed an opening 69 with an impressive five-under-par 67 in the best of the conditions at Kingsbarns Links to sit in tied second alongside World No. 2 Lexi Thompson.
Few who saw her in action would have known that it was her first time leading a major championship, appearing totally at ease in her new-found position, which is even more impressive considering the lack of playing time she has had this year due to the LET’s sparse scheduling.
It would be In-Kyung Kim, playing among the last groups of the day, that would head into Saturday with a two-shot lead over the rest of the field. The Korean appeared totally unfazed by the torrential rain that fell for much of her round, as she closed with a four-under-par 68 which included an eagle on the par-3 eleventh.
It was an impressive day from two of the young amateurs in the field, who remain locked in a battle for the Smyth Salver, which is awarded to the low amateur for the championship.
The world's top-ranked amateur Leona Maguire showed her usual composure on the way to a one-under-par 71, the same score as her closest rival, nineteen-year-old Sophie Lamb. The pair are among a big group of players at T-20 on -4, which also includes American veteran Cristie Kerr and Brooke Henderson.
Overnight leader Michelle Wie was unable to recreate the form that saw her produce a spectacular eight-under-par 64 on day one, dropping three shots over the closing two holes, to fall six shots behind Kim at the halfway stage.
‘’I tried to force things at the end,’’ she said. ‘’But thankfully it’s not Sunday and I still have two more days to go, so I’m happy about that.’’
Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who sits in the final qualifying spot for the Solheim Cup, put in a performance that will surely secure her place on the plane to Iowa, firing a two-under-par 70 on day two, to sit in T-5.
Several players who were hoping to make a statement ahead of the Solheim Cup team announcement will be sorely disappointed after failing to impress at the spectacular venue. Scotland’s Catriona Matthew stressed the need for two strong performances over the past couple of weeks if she was to have any chance of making the team, but looks like she may well have to settle for her role as vice-captain after rounds of 76 and 70. Other European contenders who failed to make the cut include Dane Emily Pedersen, Madelene Sagstrom, and Florentyna Parker.
Ariya Jutanugarn won't be around to defend the title she won twelve months ago, after a disastrous 12th hole, in which she took six shots to escape the sand at the short par-3.
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