Spain’s Carlota Ciganda holds a commanding five shot lead at the midway point of the Estrella Damm Ladies Open presented by Catalunya.
The 32-year-old from Pamplona rolled in five birdies in a bogey-free second-round of 67 to reach 12 under, ahead of Scotland’s Michele Thomson, Sweden’s Maja Stark and Magdalena Simmermacher of Argentina, moving closer to a sixth LET title and the first since she won the Andalucía Costa del Sol Open de España last November.
The five-time European Solheim Cup player was all smiles at Club de Golf Terramar on Friday. She said: “No bogeys is always a good round and with five birdies, even better. I holed a great putt on number one and had some chances, a good up and down and then on five and six. I made a fantastic putt on nine and two putts on 11. I took advantage of the par five and then a good birdie on 13 and I could have made one more, but I birdied 17 and made a great par on the last, so overall I’m very happy.”
The defending champion, Stark, who played with Ciganda for the first two rounds, matched her 67 on Friday to move closer to the leader.
Stark said: “Today was a bit of a struggle as I had four three-putts and I felt like I was playing so poorly, but finally I made some putts at the end. It was fun to play with Emily (Kristine Pedersen) and Carlota. I feel like I’ve got to go and hit the gym and hit the putting green, but it was fun.”
Simmermacher, who shot 68, said that she played better in the second round and hit more greens. The Estrella Damm Ladies Open was her first start on the LET three years ago after she received an invitation to play in the event from the event promoter, Deporte and Business and she led by four strokes heading into the final round last year, so she feels that the course suits her eye.
She said: “It was my first time leading heading into the last round when we played here nine months ago and it was a good experience, because it got me thinking about how to do it better, but I was really heartbroken last time. I think I will have the same game plan, but it’s all about your head. I think perhaps you have to just let it go and if you play well, it’s good and if not, it’s fine too.”
Thomson, the only player to have been in the morning side of the draw, added an impressive three-under-par 69 to her opening 68.
The 34-year-old Scot fired five birdies against two bogeys in hot and windy conditions, starting her round with back-to-back birdies at the third and fourth holes, before dropping a shot at the sixth. With another pair of birdies at the eighth and ninth, she went to the turn in three-under-par 34 and held steady, coming home in level par 35 after a bogey on the 10th and a birdie on the 16th hole.
“I just took it step by step really,” said Thomson. “Me and my caddie Paul (Keyser), said at the beginning of the week, you give yourself 18 chances and you take some of them and you don’t take the rest. I’ve been striking the ball really well and I’ve had two disappointing weeks, the last two weeks, so I came into this week wanting to do a bit better and I love Sitges. I always seem to find my game here. It must be a course that suits me and I’m enjoying my time here.
“I found the conditions similar to yesterday, because the afternoon was pretty windy, I thought. It died down later on, which helped a little bit, but it was similar to yesterday and similar scores as well. I thought I’d just try to give myself plenty of opportunities to put myself in the thick of things.”
Sweden’s Elin Arvidsson sits in fifth place, while Spain’s Nuria Iturrioz shot the round of the day – a six-under-par 66 – to move into a share of sixth position with Anne-Lise Caudal from France.
“I had eight birdies and hit some really solid shots and made the putts, so I’m really happy about that,” said Iturrioz, setting up the prospect of a Spanish duel against Ciganda.
The third round gets underway at 8.15am and all the action will be televised live over the weekend.