American Katie Burnett shot a two-under par 70 to seize a one stroke lead over In-Kyung Kim of South Korea on eight-under par after Friday’s second round of the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters in Düsseldorf.
Taking advantage of the ideal scoring conditions at sun-dappled Golf Club Hubbelrath, Belen Mozo of Spain carded a blistering eight-under-par 64 to rocket into third position on six-under.
With a 74, first-round leader Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa slipped back into fourth place, just three shots from the lead. Annabel Dimmock, Camilla Lennarth, Amelia Lewis and Angel Yin share fifth place and Sandra Gal is the top German player in a tie for 11th on two-under.
The fact that just 20 players from a field of 144 competitors are on one-under par or better at the halfway stage of the tournament demonstrates the demanding nature of the tight and hilly tree-lined layout, as discovered by German star Caroline Masson, who was tied for the lead after playing her first nine in four-under par but dropped five shots on her second nine, including a triple bogey on the par-4 sixth hole. Masson slipped into a share of 15th position on one-under par in a group with the defending champion Beth Allen, also still within sight of the winner’s podium.
Fellow American Burnett, who is yet to win on the Ladies European Tour, had three birdies and just one blemish, at the 18th, on her card. She said afterwards: “I think I hit my tee balls a little better today. My irons weren’t as good as yesterday and because the greens are soft, they got a little bit bumpy this afternoon. Other than that, I can’t complain. I think it played a little tougher today. The pins are in tougher places. We’ve still got 36 holes to play and there are a couple of great players right behind me. I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and see what happens.”
The 2014 champion Kim agreed that despite playing firmer, the course seemed tougher and she said: “The front nine had a lot of longer clubs into the green but I managed to get some up and downs. It doesn’t show it on the scorecard. It was good on the front nine and the back nine and I managed to make some birdies somehow.
“The fairways are really slopey, so I hit a lot of left to right lies today and I kept pulling left and then I kind of figured it out on the back nine. I think that cost me a few shots, missing left. Other than that I feel pretty comfortable.”
Mozo made her move with an eagle on the third followed by birdies on the fifth and ninth. She made another five birdies on the back nine with her only blemish being a bogey on the par-4 12th.
She said: “I’ve been playing well for the past couple of months and scores haven’t been playing to my favour. I knew that I had to be patient. It’s really hard to understand that sometimes. I have a caddie that helps me a lot and my family who support me. I was patient and I knew that I could score really low on this course and I stayed in the present and kept firing at the flagsticks as I knew that I was firing the irons really well.
“I haven’t had one single driver today. I’ve been hitting a lot of 3-woods and hybrids. The course is playing totally different to the practise rounds and even the first round. It’s firming up, so you just have to play strategically and know where you want to leave your second shot. It is a course that, sometimes playing too aggressively off the tee might cost you, so you have to be patient off the tee.”
Pace felt that she had a few unlucky breaks. “I got quite annoyed on the short par five, the 17th, on my front nine. I hit over the green and that was a pretty big mistake. That would have put me on eight. It just, not quite put me on the back foot, but you don’t have momentum after that. Then two holes later I got plugged in a bunker right up against a lip and I couldn’t get it out. That was unlucky, but I played solidly and made a birdied the other par five. I am obviously disappointed because I’m playing better than two-over-par.”
After fair conditions so far, more glorious weather is predicted for the weekend, with generally sunny skies and highs of 28C. Third round play begins at 8am on Saturday and the leaders will tee off at 12.04pm.