Georgia Hall fired a second round of 67 to take a one stroke lead at the halfway stage of the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino ahead of Carlota Ciganda and home-town heroine Azahara Muñoz, who equalled the course record with a 64.
Hall started at the 10th and birdied the 11th and 13th holes to establish a two-stroke lead at nine-under-par in hot and sunny conditions at Real Club de Golf Guadalmina. She then birdied the 17th and took a three-stroke lead through the turn.
After further birdies at the fifth and seventh, Hall ended the day on 12-under-par and she said afterwards: “I hit the ball better today, I just didn’t hit it close enough to the pin with my approach shots. It’s always good to have a bogey-free round and it got a bit windy on the back nine, so I’m happy with today’s score.
“The pins were not much harder, so you could attack them, but I putted well again today. Aza played great today. She holed some really good putts and shot eight-under, so she’s one behind me. It was great playing with her and the weather is great, so I enjoyed it.”
The defending champion Muñoz, who last year became the first Spanish player to win the title since its inauguration in 1982, said that her flawless 64 was her best round on the South Course at her home club.
She had two birdies on the back nine before firing another six on the front, including five in a row from the third to the seventh holes. She said: “I haven’t played many tournaments on the South Course, because most tournaments used to be played on the North, but I actually only remember an eight-under on the North Course, so it’s definitely my best round by far on the South. I kept being patient. I’ve been playing really well both days and yesterday I couldn’t make putts. I was hitting good putts but touching the edges. Today it was a combination of hitting it close and making some nice 15-footers. I’m feeling comfortable and playing well, but right now, I just want to enjoy the moment. Tomorrow is a new day.”
Ciganda joined her former Solheim Cup partner on 11-under after posting a 67, containing three birdies and an eagle on the long seventh.
She said: “I didn’t really think about the scores too much out there. I was just trying to play my game and play the plan. I’m happy with my score: no bogeys, three birdies and one eagle. I’m happy with 11-under going into the weekend and excited about tomorrow.
“I think it’s going to be fun, playing with Aza here. I’m sure there will be lots of people here tomorrow: her whole town, family, everybody will be here. It’s really good that we have two Spanish people up there and Georgia is a great player. She has lots of confidence after The Solheim Cup so I’m happy for her and hopefully we can make more birdies tomorrow.”
Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa is a stroke further behind in fourth place after recovering from an early double-bogey on the 12th with seven birdies and a bogey for a round of 68. The 2013 champion said: “I played really well today and yesterday. I started really badly and had a double on three, just from nowhere. I think I was still asleep. After that, I settled down and hit quite a few shots really close. I think the back nine has some par fives that are accessible but on the front nine I said to myself, let’s get to three-under, and I did it. There are some strong players here. It’s nice that everyone comes back to support the Tour and it will be a good weekend.”
Frenchwoman Valentine Derrey sits in fifth spot while Ursula Wikstrom and LET rookie Meghan MacLaren are tied for sixth. Diana Luna and Natalia Escuriola Martinez, who held a share of the lead after the first round, both had rounds of 73 to sit on six-under-par.