England’s Jodi Ewart fired a four under par 67 on the North Course at La Manga Club in Spain on Monday to take a one stroke lead after the second round of Final Qualifying School for the 2012 Ladies European Tour season.
The 24-year-old from Middleham in North Yorkshire mixed six birdies with two bogeys for a seven under par 36-hole total of 137.
The former Great Britain and Ireland Curtis Cup player is now poised to achieve a dream double after earning her LPGA Tour card in December.
She ended the day a stroke ahead of three other players. French amateur Alexandra Vilatte, the first round co-leader Sharmila Nicollet of India and Heather Bowie-Young of the United States were all on six under par.
Spain’s Carlota Ciganda and Marjet Van der Graff from the Netherlands finished a stroke further behind in a share of fifth place, followed by Scotland’s Clare Queen and Thailand’s Piyathida Ployumsri on four under par.
Ewart said: “I hit 16 greens and had 30 putts so it was just really steady and I birdied my last two holes so that helped a lot. I felt like I left a couple of shots out there so that’s always good when you shoot four under. Everything is really steady and I’m just taking it one shot at a time.”
Living in Sarasota, Florida, where she trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Ewart is used to playing in sunny weather, but she was prepared for the heavy rain and strong winds which were predicted for the second round. She and the rest of the field of competitors were pleasantly surprised to find blue skies and a light breeze by mid morning.
“The weather charts said an 80 per cent chance of rain but it was nice all day. There was not too much wind so it was perfect really,” said Ewart, who spent four years studying psychology at the University of New Mexico.
Overnight co-leader Nicollet held her nerve to post a one under par 70 on the North Course. The 20-year-old from south of Bangalore mixed five birdies with four bogeys to remain well within the top 30 places eligible for a full tour card after five rounds.
“My recoveries were good today and my driving was good compared to yesterday, so the goal for the week is to finish under par in total and every day, so that is the mentality for the week,” said Nicollet. “The course is playing short for me; distance is my strength so most of the time I have a 52 degree in and I can reach the par fives in two. I think this is my strength over the other players so the target is to go low.”
Vilatte, a 29-year-old amateur from Paris, led the European ranking in 2005 and she has spent the last six years studying to become a pharmacist.
On her second round of four under par 69 on the South Course, containing six birdies and two birdies, she said: “The best part of my game was my irons but my driving was good too. My wedges were very good too and on the par fives that was great.”
Bowie Young, 36, a full-time member of the LPGA who represented the United States at The 2003 Solheim Cup is hoping to give herself more playing options by joining the Ladies European Tour and her second round of five under par 68 on the South Course put her in the ideal position.
Marjet Van der Graaff from the Netherlands is playing to retain her playing rights after four years on tour, while Queen is also trying to keep her card having played on tour for six seasons.
The 90-hole Final Qualifying School is being played with 36 holes on each of La Manga Club’s North and South courses for the first four rounds with a cut to the leading 50 players and ties after 72 holes. The fifth round will be played on the South Course on Thursday and the top 30 players will earn LET Membership in category 8a.