Former ISPS HANDA British Masters champion Lydia Hall from Wales fired a second round of six-under-par 65 in fair conditions to post the clubhouse target at the Tipsport Golf Masters on Saturday morning, before play was twice suspended due to dramatic thunderstorms at Golf Park Plzen in the Czech Republic.
The 28-year-old from Bridgend fired five birdies and an eagle before dropping her only shot on the 17th hole. With a total of six-under, she holds a one stroke clubhouse lead over first round co-leader Linda Wessberg from Sweden, Italian Diana Luna and Australian Whitney Hillier, who had a tournament low-round of seven-under 64.
After the second delay, play resumed at 15:45 local time and Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen was on seven-under-par after 10 holes.
Hall returned from knee ligament surgery for the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters in December, where she finished tied for 37th place and she is trying to catch up after a year away from the Ladies European Tour.
“It’s been the best and worst thing for me. I’d been on tour eight years so it was good to have a refresh and start again. I thought it would be awful, but I wasn’t thinking about swinging the club, just getting from A to B,” she said.
“Today I holed my eight-iron on eight, which I think was my first holed second shot in a tournament. We had 136 to the pin and it pitched to the right and span back into the hole so that got things going from there. I got to seven-under and made a terrible three-putt on 17, but I’m really pleased and would have taken it at the start of the day.”
Hall opened with a level par 71, but it would have been a one-under 70 had her local caddie not picked up her ball on the 12th, her third hole of the tournament, for which she incurred a one shot penalty.
“That wasn’t the ideal start!” she said, adding: “I had just made birdie and hit a perfect 5-iron down the middle and then Cat (Bristow) hit a provisional, so I said, ‘You’ve got yours, I’ll throw your other ball to you,’ and bent down to pick hers up and throw it to her. Because it was preferred lies he must have thought that I was marking mine so he picked the other ball up and a one shot penalty.”
While Madsen, playing in the afternoon, had recorded four birdies in her first 10 holes to move one ahead, Australian Stacey Keating was alongside Hall on six-under after eight.
The best Czech player is Karolina Vlckova, a talented amateur who plays for Florida Gators. She is tied for 17th on two-under-par, three strokes inside the projected cut mark.