Lydia Hall of Wales fired a flawless four-under-par 68 on Friday to take a two-stroke lead in the Lalla Meryem Cup at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat, Morocco.
Hall, the 2012 ISPS HANDA Ladies British Masters champion, finished her second round on seven-under-par and two ahead of England’s Annabel Dimmock, with Norwegian Suzann Pettersen a stroke further behind in third place.
Hall carded birdies at the fifth and 10th to move ahead of the pack and then chipped in on 16, adding another birdie with an up and down from the trap on 17.
“Looking at the scores, a couple of players were getting away with it on the front nine, but I knew that it’s a tough golf course and the wind would get up, so I needed to stay patient and not get ahead of myself. I made a lot of pars and kept the mistakes off the card,” said Hall, who will play with Pettersen and Dimmock in the third round on Saturday.
“I’m looking forward to playing with Suzann. We played together in the third round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters in December and I can’t wait to play tomorrow,” she said.
Dimmock also made the most of the perfect weather conditions to register a 69 on the Blue Course. She said: “It’s a bit of a shock because at the start of the week I was not hitting it well at all. After all the practise rounds and speaking to my coach, it’s a pleasant surprise, but I’ll take it. Nothing has really clicked and I’m just getting it round, really and I hit it better than expected. Even in my next tournament, if I am hitting it better, I’ll focus on getting it round rather than swing thoughts.”
Pettersen set the target earlier in the day after scrambling a 71 and she said: “This course is not easy to play from the rough. You’ve really got to hit fairways as the greens are so small and the rough is very unpredictable. I don’t think I’ve had one great lie where you feel that you can control the ball and the spin. I’ll keep hitting fairways and try to hit more greens than I did today.
“If I was a little bit older I probably would have had a heart attack, because it was up and down, up and down. There are birdies out there, but you don’t have to be much off. A slight mistake and the bogeys are very easy to make. It was not my best from tee to green so I have a job to do, but I’ll look forward to the weekend. If you hit fairways and greens I think you can shoot low around this place.”
England’s Felicity Johnson lies in fourth spot, with Georgia Hall, Olivia Cowan, Agathe Sauzon and Yan Liu tied for fifth on two-under-par.
Meanwhile, for the first time, there will be two Moroccans in the field for the weekend, with Olympian Maha Haddioui tied for 23rd place on two-over-par and amateur Lina Belmati, 20, tied for 49th on five-over-par, just inside the cut mark. Both players are expected to draw a large gallery as they play on home soil over the final two days.