Rookie professional Celine Boutier of France shot a three-under-par 69 in the second round of the Sanya Ladies Open to take a one-stroke lead into the final round at Yalong Bay Golf Club in tropical Hainan.
The 24-year-old Parisienne fired five birdies in her first 13 holes on Saturday but bogeyed 15 and 16 to finish on eight-under-par, ahead of Valdis Thora Jonsdottir from Iceland, who also shot 69.
“Three-under is a good score, especially on this course, I’m just a little frustrated because I started off pretty well and had two birdies in the last five holes, so that was tough,” said Boutier, the 2015 Ladies’ British Open Amateur champion, who graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology last May.
“The conditions were similar to the first round and the slight breeze was in the same direction but maybe it was less windy over the front nine.”
Since finishing tied for third at the LET’s Lalla Aicha Tour School in December, Boutier has played most of her golf on the US Symetra Tour this season. She has already won two titles and sealed her card for the LPGA, but she would love to earn her first LET win in Sanya.
“It would be awesome. I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to play for the win tomorrow and I’m going to do my best,” she continued.
Fellow rookie Jonsdottir also has a chance to claim her maiden win and become the LET’s first tournament champion from Iceland on her Chinese debut. The 27-year-old from Akranes almost won on the LET Access Series in El Saler, Spain, last month, but lost out by a stroke.
Her round in Sanya on Saturday included seven birdies and four bogeys and she said: “I made a good downhill putt from 18 feet on number three and it was good to see that go in after my three-putt on two. Overall, it’s good and I’m getting a lot of opportunities so tomorrow hopefully I’ll use them all. I need to play well to keep my card, so that’s the main goal. I would like to see a win and I’ll go in hungry to the final round tomorrow.”
Prima Thammaraks of Thailand occupies solo third place on six-under-par. The US LPGA and Symetra Tour player said: “When I started today it was a little up and down and I kept making bogeys after I made my birdies, so I didn’t feel like I was settled in. Then I remembered in the practise round, my friend told me to rub the head of the turtle statue on the bridge, for good luck, so I did that on the way to hole eight and that made me feel better! To get my third win would be amazing.”
Australian Sarah Kemp, South Korean Solar Lee and Norwegian Madelene Stavnar share fourth place on five-under-par.
The LET’s youngest member, Stavnar is keen to capture her first win and ensure her Tour card for 2018 before her 17th birthday, on 9th December. She said: “I love the course and the quality of the greens is brilliant. It’s different to what I’m used to, but I’m enjoying playing on the Bermuda grass. The strength of my game was my iron shots and because I hit it close it was easier to make birdies. On the back nine I was struggling a bit more but I made some good up and downs.
“I’ve been playing well for the last few weeks but had not managed to get the scores. This week I’ve been hitting a lot of good shots and playing quite stable.”
“On hole 13, I went for the green in two shots on both days. Yesterday I hit the green in two and today I hit it in the water. My focus for tomorrow will be to have fun on the course and play for the win.”
Thailand’s Wichanee Meechai is a stroke back in seventh position with 10 further players tied for eighth position on three-under-par, including the two-time tournament winner Lee-Anne Pace and defending champion Supamas Sangchan. China’s Xiyu Lin, another double champion, made the cut and sits on two-over-par.