Lydia Ko shook off her jetlag and flew straight into the lead after 2 rounds of the ISPS Handa NZ Women’s Open at Clearwater GC in Christchurch today.
The 18year old world number one had said that she had not played her best golf yesterday after shooting a 3 under par 69, so it was not a surprise to see Ko jump out of the blocks this afternoon. Ko made birdies at the second, the fourth, seventh, and eighth holes to make the turn in 4 under par, and kept the momentum going on the back none with another at the 12th before giving one back at the difficult par 4 13th hole after driving into deep rough. Ko made a birdie at the difficult par 3 16th hole to get back into a tie for the lead and after solid pars at the finishing two holes she signed for a 5 under par 68 and a 36 hole total of 8 under par. “I hit the ball much better today and had a lot of chances” said Ko “I just need to focus on my game tomorrow”
French rookie Justine Dreher will start tomorrow’s final round just a shot behind Ko and will have the honour of being paired with the number one player on the planet tomorrow.
She followed up her opening 67, which included 7 birdies with a 2 under par round of 70, which included 3 birdies and a single bogey at the difficult par 4 eighth hole which was her 17th hole of the day.
The 23 year old arrived into Australia in early January hoping to earn a place in all three of the ALPG major events. Currently she finds herself assured of a place in next week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and the RACV Ladies Masters the following week, and a chance to win in only her second major tournament as a professional playing alongside Ko. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for Dreher, she proved last week at the Oates Victorian that she has the pedigree to content in major International tournaments after her 5th place finish, tomorrow will be the biggest test so far in her short professional career.
Overnight leader Nicole Broch Larsen herself was off to a good start after a birdie at 2, but she couldn’t get anything going the front nine and after a double bogey at the par 3 9th hole was out in one over par. She would birdie the tenth hole to get back to even for her round before a disappointing dropped shot at the last meant a one over par 73 and a 36 hole total of 5 under par.
The round of the day went to Broch Larson’s good friend and compatriot Emily Pedersen, who shot a 6 under par round of 66 whilst playing alongside Ko and last year’s runner up Hannah Green. She was 7 under par for the day and the tournament playing the last hole but a missed par putt meant that she would start the final round 2 shots off the lead at 6 under.
Scotswomen Pamela Pretswell was one of the few early morning starters to appear on the leaderboard today, after a shooting a four under par 68 yesterday afternoon in windy conditions, she added a steady 2 under par 70 to also sit at 6 under par after 36 holes alongside Pedersen and fellow Dane Nanna Madsen.
New Zealander Liv Cheng sits at 5 under par after rounds of 70 and 69 after spending the past two days playing in the company of Dame Laura Davies. Davies herself rolled back the years today, after a disappointing 2 over par 74 yesterday the Englishwoman made the perfect start, with a birdie at the first followed by an eagle at the par 5 second hole. She would birdie the 9th hole to be out in 4 under par 36, before another eagle at the 10th hole saw her climb to 6 under par for the round and 4 under for the tournament. A disappointing bogey at the par three 11th hole was followed up with three more bogeys at the 13th and 14th and 17th holes before a par at the last had Davies reflecting what could have been. She will start the final round 8 shots behind Ko at even par.
Ko will without doubt start as an overwhelming favourite tomorrow but with 15 players within 4 shots of the lead she will need to bring her “a” game with her to Clearwater if she is going to claim a 3rd ISPS Handa Women’s Open title.
For all today’s scores go to www. http://alpg.com.au/tournament.php?id=4251&pid=1150&sec=lb
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