Nobuhle Dlamini shot a three-under-par 69 in windy conditions to take a two shot lead midway through Pre-Qualifier A of the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School at PalmGolf Marrakesh Palmeraie.
The big-hitting Swazi golfer, 26, is at five-under-par, ahead of Portugueuse amateur Leonor Bessa, who also shot 69 to lie in second, with Alazne Urizar from Venezuela a stroke further back in third.
Dlamini claimed her breakthrough victory in the South African Sunshine Ladies Tour’s SuperSport Ladies Challenge at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club in extremely windy conditions in March.
She also won the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship in a windy 36-hole final at Royal Cape in 2009 and went wire-to-wire at Umhlali Country Club in even more blustery conditions to lift the 2012 Sanlam SA Stroke Play title as an amateur.
“The wind was a little bit up today and it blew from the opposite direction to yesterday, so the course played a lot longer,” said the former Ladies European Tour member, who finished fifth on the 2018 Investec Property Fund Order of Merit.
“The wind makes me focus and be more accurate with my targets, I can shape the ball and I quite enjoy it. I’m hitting fairways and greens and they don’t break a lot, so I putted well today and I think that was the key to my score.”
Dlamini started with five straight pars, birdied the 15th and 16th and then made two more pars on the back nine, which she played first, but it wasn’t as simple as it looked.
She explained: “On the par-5 12th, I hit my drive and then I had 210 yards downwind, so I hit my 4-iron left into a bush. I was lucky that I could drop it and then I hit a great shot and made a hell of a par, so that was the highlight.”
On the back nine, she had two more birdies and a bogey and said: “On the eighth, my 17th, it was a pity I dropped a shot but it was a double green and I hit the wrong one so I had a really long putt. Six-under would have been nice but I’m happy with five.”
Bessa, 20, from Porto (above), mixed five birdies with two bogeys and said: “My second round was very solid. After a 1 hour 20 minute weather delay this morning, it was nice to have some sunshine in November. I really want to thank my family for all the support they have given me to get here, especially my brother, who was a great caddie today.”
The top 36 players and ties after four rounds, or 72 holes, will advance to the Final Stage of Lalla Aicha Tour School, to be held at Amelkis Golf Club and PalmGolf Marrakesh Ourika from Friday 16th to Tuesday 20th December, joining those LET members who are already exempt and further players from Pre Qualifiers B and C.
After the Final Stage, the top 5 players will be eligible for Ladies European Tour Membership in Category 5c (or equivalent of Cat. 5c for 2019). Players from 6th to 25th position will be eligible for Membership in Category 8a in 2019.
This is the seventh year of the Ladies European Tour’s Qualifying School in Morocco, renamed Lalla Aicha Tour School in honour of HRH The Late Princess Lalla Aicha.