Rising Indian star Amandeep Drall, the No.2 ranked player on the Hero Women’s Professional Golf Tour Order of Merit, joined first-round leader Céline Boutier of France at the head of affairs on 10-under-par after 36-holes at the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Stage in Marrakech, Morocco.
Conditions were much warmer for the second round on Sunday, which was played under blue skies at the Samanah and Amelkis courses, simultaneously.
Drall fired a second round of four-under-par 68 at the Amelkis Course, while Boutier backed up her opening 65 with a 69 at the Samanah Course.
“My iron play was great. I only missed three greens and rolled in a lot of putts, so it was consistent hitting: fairway, green; fairway green,” said Drall, who has won four tournaments on the Indian domestic circuit in 2016.
“I had four birdies and I think the Amelkis course is more scoreable than Samanah, especially on the back nine, because you have a lot of birdie holes where you can hit shorter clubs into the green and stick them close and hole the putts. So far, so good. I have no ambitions other than to make the top 30 and keep playing good golf.”
The 24-year-old from Chandigarh has the most experienced caddie at her side this week: Ian Wright, who has clocked up 37 years on tour and caddied for Seve Ballesteros.
She explained: “It was purely coincidence that we met. One of his friends, Eric, is caddying for my good friend Vani (Kapoor), so he approached me and I took him for a practice round and he passed the test. He’s really good with the yardages and I’m hitting good clubs into the greens, so I don’t have to bother too much about the calculations. I just have to be on the ball and hit my shot and that’s it. He’s the best caddie I’ve had yet.”
While Drall is happy to be playing solid golf, Boutier is also in the running to claim the trophy with 54 holes to go.
The 2011 European Junior Solheim Cup team member said: “I started pretty well with a birdie on one and it was pretty steady: all pars until I had two more birdies on 15 and 16 and just finished with two pars. I feel like Samanah is very different because it’s more open but the greens are a lot tougher: they are much bigger with a lot of breaks and you really have to think of where you want to hit it, because depending on where you are, you can have a super difficult putt or a lot easier putt, so you have to be pretty strategic about that. I feel like yesterday I made a lot more putts for birdie but today my putting from four to seven feet was really good so I saved a lot of pars. The greens are a little drier than yesterday and I was in the first group out so at least for nine holes it was perfect. I will just continue to try my best on each shot.”
The duo holds a two shot cushion over Celina Yuan, from Sydney, Australia, who sits in third place at eight-under-par.
Yuan, the Queensland Amateur Champion, 17, said: “I think I only missed three greens and putted pretty solid other than the last hole. I hit it pretty straight. My best birdie was on the 12th because I had a bogey on the 11th so it was nice to recover with a tap-in. It’s my first time in Morocco. It’s nice. The weather is a real change from the hot summer in Australia right now. I find the courses quite similar and I played them quite similar too. I didn’t really get into any bunkers, so I played safe.”
Current LET members Agathe Sauzon from France and Ana Menendez from Mexico and English amateur Lauren Horsford share fourth at seven-under-par after rounds of 66, 67 and 70 on the Samanah course respectively.
Germany’s Karolin Lampert lies in seventh after a second-round 70 on the Amelkis Course, with Natalia Escuriola Martinez from Spain and Elina Numpenpaa of Finland in a tie for eighth.
England’s Meghan MacLaren and Italian Stefania Avanzo shot 67s on the Samanah and Amelkis courses respectively and both climbed 36 places up the leader board into a tie for 10th.
After 36 holes in the 90-hole final qualifier, there are 33 players under-par for the tournament. There will be a cut to the top 60 and ties after the fourth round, followed by the fifth and final round at Samanah Country Club.
Players who finish in the top 30 and ties will earn Ladies European Tour Membership in category 8 for 2017, while those that finish from positions 31st to 60th and ties after the cut will earn Membership in Category 9b.