England’s Georgia Hall continued to impress at the Ricoh Women’s British Open on Friday as she fired a second consecutive bogey-free round at Royal Lytham and St. Annes Golf Club.
The 22-year-old from Dorset followed her opening 67 with a four-under-par 68 for a total of nine-under-par, to sit one behind the leader Pornanong Phatlum from Thailand, and alongside Japan’s Mamiko Higa overnight leader Minjee Lee from Australia.
The 2017 LET Player of the Year, ranked 39th in the world, was out in one-under 34 thanks to a birdie at the ninth. A run of three birdies in four holes from the 13th, including a tap-in on the long 15th, took her to nine-under.
Her chances were boosted when Higa sunk a double-bogey six on the 17th after hitting her second shot left out of bounds, after Lee had earlier doubled the 16th and dropped another on the penultimate hole.
Hall, who has two professional titles to her name, is bidding to become the third British winner of the Ricoh Women’s British Open since it became a Major in 2001. England’s Karen Stupples won at Sunningdale in 2004 and Scot Catriona Matthew won the last time the event was played at Royal Lytham in 2009.
She tied for third in the championship last year at Kingsbarns in Scotland and said: “I was in a similar position last year, so I know what it feels like. So I’m still pretty calm and not really feeling much at the moment, which is good. I don’t want to feel anything. So I’m just enjoying it, and hopefully I can play well tomorrow.”
“I’ve kind of worked towards this week the last couple of months, and last week really helped me. And I feel I’m putting quite well and hitting the balls good, and I think my course management is the key for me. That’s why I’m playing well so far.”
Hall played most of her round in calm and overcast conditions, before a rain shower began on the 18th tee. She said: “There were some tough pin positions today, and the weather got a bit not very enjoyable the last few holes, but there wasn’t much wind, so I tried to take advantage and hit some close to the pins and left me a couple of easy tap-in birdies.
“I think with eight pars in a row, and on a normal golf course you might be a bit shaken by that, but on this golf course I was still very happy, and I told myself to stay patient, and on No. 9 I hit it to about two foot. So that kind of got me going for the round.”
Hall, who shared the Smyth Salver with Lydia Ko as the leading amateurs in the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open, played over The Old Course at St Andrews, has previously taken advice from former Open champion Tom Lehman about his course management at Royal Lytham and chatted with TV commentator Ken Brown ahead of the first round.
She said: “I think it’s just landing short of the bunkers off the tee. I think that’s the main thing around here and always try and have an approach shot to the green, which I think I’ve had pretty much all the time. And you know, the greens obviously because the rain as well are still very slow, so I like hitting them quite hard into the hole which I’m doing now.”
She added that she loves seeing the huge crowds out to support the players at Royal Lytham. “I think it just makes me happy that I see so many people supporting me. I don’t feel really any pressure at all. I just go out there and try and commit to my shot, and when it happens, it happens. I try not to worry about too much and hopefully sink some putts.”
After an early start, she was ready for a well earned rest before the third round.