Photograph courtesy of Tristan Jones photography
New South Wales amateur Jihye Park, also known as Hannah, took advantage of the benign morning conditions to shoot a bogey free seven-under-par 64 on day two of the Women’s NSW Open at Coffs Harbour Golf Club.
The 17-year-old will head into the weekend in a tie for the lead with Frenchwoman Justine Dreher at 6 under par in just her fourth start in a professional tournament.
The pair posted the clubhouse target after overnight co-leaders Manon Mollé and Silvia Banon could only manage rounds of 71 and 73 respectively.
Molle ended the day just one shot off the lead, tied in third place with Thai star Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, who shot a second round 69 to go with her opening 68, and Norwegian Marita Engzelius, who shot a 5 under par 66 in the warmer afternoon conditions.
Wales’ Lydia Hall and England’s Meghan MacLaren had morning rounds of 65 and 67 respectively to sit at four-under-par and are tied for 6th place along with Germany's Olivia Cowan and Swede Camilla Lennarth.
On a day of low scoring Park made seven birdies, four on the front nine and three on the back nine, and was more disappointed that she had missed a putt from inside 2 metres on the 17th hole which would have given her a 63, rather than pleased to have had shot a course record.
“I’ve shot a bunch of course records,” said the home-schooled teenager, who moved to the Sydney suburb of St Clair from Korea with her parents 11 years ago.
“I was playing really well today and my putting, everything was going in the hole, it was just like a vacuum,” she said.
“The speed was really good, and the ball striking was good too, but there were some holes where I missed the green and managed to get up and down. My chipping was also good and I scrambled well."
“This is my fourth professional event after the NSW Open, the NZ Open and Bonville and I was pleased to make the cut last weekend. I’m getting used to playing in pro events and today felt like a normal game. I think I was in the zone. I was just talking to myself, telling myself that I was going well and controlling my mind throughout the day.”
Co-leader Dreher had a rollercoaster round of two-under 69, including four birdies, four bogeys and an eagle on the first hole, a driveable par four, where she made a putt from five-feet.
“I’m really happy with my game and the position that I’m in,” said the 25-year-old from southern Paris, who recorded her career-best finish of fifth in the 2016 New Zealand Open, when she played with Lydia Ko in the final group in her first tournament as a professional two years ago.
“This is my fifth week on tour and together with the other French players, we’ve been saying, if there is somewhere that you’d like to be away from home for five weeks, the best place is Australia. We are really having a lot of fun. There are some great things to do around here and the weather has been great and it’s snowing at home, so it’s been really nice to spend some time here.”
Another player looking to finish off the five-week Australian swing with a bang is Lydia Hall, the 2012 Ladies European Masters champion, who is two strokes off the lead after a second-round 65 containing seven birdies and a single bogey at the ninth hole her final hole of the day.
Hall said: “I played really nicely and hit all the fairways bar one, hit most of the greens and holed some putts, so it was a nice round, apart from on my last hole, where I had a three-putt."
“My performances over the last few weeks have been up and down, so hopefully I can have a solid weekend to take into South Africa next week.”
The Australian trio of Rebeca Artis, Sarah Kemp and Emily McLennan is lurking just 3 shots off the lead at -3, and will all fancy their chances heading into the weekend. For Kemp and Artis, both New South Welshwomen, a win this week in their state open would be a dream come true.
Tomorrow's third round will begin at 7:40 am and entry is free for spectators.
FAST FACTS: Women’s NSW Open Golf Championship
Tournament website: www.womensnswopen.com.au
Host Venue: Coffs Harbour Golf Club
Date: 1-4 March 2018
Format: 72-hole Stroke Play Championship
Field Size: 138 players
Total Prize Pool: AUD $150,000
2006: Joanne Mills
2008: Dame Laura Davies (ENG)
2009-2010: Sarah Oh (NSW)
2011: Caroline Hedwall (SWE)
2012: Lydia Ko (am) (NZL)
2013: Caroline Hedwall (SWE)
2014: Joanna Klatten (FRA)
2015: Holly Clyburn (ENG)
The Women’s NSW Open is supported by the NSW Government via its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW.
Round 3 draw and Live Scoring can be found HERE
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