Amy Olson (above), Mo Martin, Maria Torres and Mi Hyang Lee hold a four-way share of the halfway lead after a day of mixed conditions at The Evian Championship.
First round co-leader Maria Torres from Puerto Rico set the early clubhouse target at eight-under with a 69 before United States pair Olson and Martin and South Korean Mi Hyang Lee moved alongside her with rounds of 65, 66 and 66 respectively.
Overnight co-leader Carlota Ciganda from Spain faced a birdie putt on 18 to tie for the lead, but she goes into the weekend one shot off the pace after a lip out from 12 feet for a 70.
Course conditions were softer and the pins were more attackable during the second round after rain showers through the night persisted into the morning.
Hall, who won the Ricoh Women’s British Open last month at Lytham, where she was one stroke back at the halfway stage, posted a second successive 68 to get within two strokes.
She said afterwards that her practise was a little ‘stop-start’ but the sun was shining brightly by the time she finished her round. After starting at the 10th, she made her first bogey of the championship at the 12th, but recovered with four birdies on holes 14, 15, three and eight.
“My long game was really good today, I just couldn’t really hole that many putts, so that was a little bit frustrating, but I holed some good ones as well, so I’m still happy,” said the 22-year-old from Dorset, who hit 12 of 13 fairways compared with nine on Thursday. “You’ve got to have everything kind of going well for you on this golf course, because it’s quite tight. You’ve got to hit fairways. If you don’t hit fairways, some shots, you can’t get to the green.”
LPGA rookie Maria Torres (above), who became the first Puerto Rican to play in a major at the LPGA Championship earlier this year, started with two bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes, but sank four birdies to get back into a share of the lead.
The 23-year-old from San Juan, who survived Hurricane Maria last year, was just thrilled to be making her tournament debut and her first trip to France.
When asked if she was nervous about leading an event, let along a major, for the first time, she replied: “I have to say a little bit. It’s something new and it’s exciting. After that, just go out there and just play golf. That’s the only thing I can do.”
Olson was another surprise leader. The 26-year-old from Oxbow, a small town of roughly 300 inhabitants in North Dakota, is a fifth year LPGA player who has two-top 10s so far in 2018. She switched from a TaylorMade Spider to an Odyssey 2-Ball putter a fortnight ago and is feeling more comfortable on the greens, since she previously played with a 2-Ball as a junior.
“I’m rolling the ball better than I’ve ever rolled it. Obviously seeing putts go in, that helps the score and it’s just a lot of fun to make some birdies,” said Olson, who covered the front nine in 31 and came home in 34.
The third leader, Martin, used her experience to full effect on Friday, rolling in six birdie putts against one blemish, at the par-4 18th, on her card. The 35-year-old from Pasadena, California, is looking for her second major following the 2014 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. She said: “I found something tiny with my putting, but honestly, I’ve been playing so darn well. It’s been so frustrating because it’s been so close.”
Meanwhile Lee, the 2017 Ladies Scottish Open winner, 25, from Seoul, joined the leaders after mixing five birdies with a solitary bogey.
In the other race, for the Rolex Annika Major Award, which rewards the best performance over all five women’s majors, world number three So Yeon Ryu remains in the hunt alongside Hall on six-under and world number four Inbee Park is within striking distance on five-under.
Pernilla Lindberg, the ANA Inspiration champion, is tied for 36th place on level par, with world number two Ariya Jutanugarn, the US Women’s Open champion, in 51st on two-over-par.
World number five Lexi Thompson was in tears as she bogeyed the last hole to finish on four-over-par, one stroke outside the cut, while world number one Sung Hyun Park missed by three. A level par 71 wasn’t enough to undo the damage from the first day.