Rebecca Artis plays a shot with husband Geoff standing by

Australian Rebecca Artis continued to lead the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open after grinding out a second round of one under par 71 in hot and windy conditions at Golf Gerre Losone on Friday.

Artis, who opened with a career-low 64, was nine under par at the halfway stage of the LET’s third biggest prize-money tournament.

Italians Diana Luna and Veronica Zorzi joined England’s Florentyna Parker two strokes behind.

Artis leads by two at the halfway stage

Artis combined five birdies with four birdies on the picturesque, mountainside course, near Ascona in Ticino and said afterwards: “It was a grind. I didn’t hit it quite as well today but I stayed patient and tried to focus on one shot at a time, focus on fairways and greens and I made a couple of putts when I needed to and made a couple of par putts to keep the momentum going, so it was a solid day overall.”

Newlywed Artis and her husband Geoff are used to the heat living on the Gold Coast in Queensland, but, like many of the afternoon players, battled with the tricky breeze.

“It was a lot tougher today. The wind was up and it was swirling a bit and it was fairly strong, so it was definitely tougher today than yesterday but I stayed patient and grinded all day so I’m pleased with that,” said Artis, who has a base in England during the European golf season at Lingfield Park Marriot Hotel Resort.

Defending champion Luna also played in the hot and breezy afternoon conditions and was pleased with her round of 70, which contained three birdies and one dropped shot.

Veronica Zorzi feels comfortable in Italian-speaking Ticino, southern Switzerland

“I am very pleased. It was very tough out there this afternoon. The wind was blowing and it was gusting and changing direction pretty much the whole way around,” Luna said.

“I think it was hard out there and of course I was hanging well even though I had a few bad shots and managed to recover very well. I was very pleased about that.

“It was definitely very, very different to yesterday. The course is drying out and it was very hot out there. It was really tough.”

Playing in the morning, her compatriot Zorzi played in a gentler breeze and added a 68 to her first-round 69.

Coming off two top ten finishes, with a tie sixth place in Holland and a tie for third in Slovakia, Zorzi said she felt comfortable playing only three-and-a-half hours’ drive from her home in Verona and was enjoying being able to speak her own language and eat Italian food.

Parker could have been tied for the lead had she not double bogeyed her last hole, the par-four ninth. She had three birdies in her first eight holes but couldn’t keep the momentum.

She commented: “I played really well the first six, seven holes and had a lot of chances and made them and then the front nine, I missed all my birdie putts, had a few opportunities and doubled the ninth, which was a shame.

“I played really well the last two days and I’ve got a good chance and I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

Parker in the hunt for her second LET crown

South African Stacy Lee Bregman, Denmark’s Malene Jorgensen and Frenchwoman Barbara Genuini were in a share of fifth place on six under.

Jorgensen, with six birdies and one drop on the card, said: “I played really good today and had a very good putter, so I’m very happy right now. I have my mental coach (Martin Langagergaard) with me this week and he helped me a lot so I’ll try to keep up the work.”

Bregman, who had a bogey-free round with five birdies, commented: “I played very solid today. The course is really score-able and all that. I only missed two greens today so I mean if you get the putter going you can really go low on this course.”

A group of seven players were at five under, including the recent Deloitte Dutch Ladies Open champion Carlota Ciganda of Spain and the 2010 Swiss event winner Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa.

The third round gets under way from one tee at 8am on Saturday with further high pressure forecast for the weekend.