Icelandic rookie Olafia Kristinsdottir remained ice-cool at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi on Thursday as she shot a red-hot second round of 66, extending her lead to three shots in the inaugural Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open.
The 24-year-old from Reykjavik refused to crack under pressure, backing up her opening round of 65 to lead on 13-under ahead of four other players.
England’s Georgia Hall (below) had a women’s course record of eight-under-par 64 to share second with compatriot Holly Clyburn (66), Gwladys Nocera of France (66) and Beth Allen of the United States (68) on 10-under-par.
On a day of low scoring, England’s Melissa Reid shot 65 and moved up into a share of sixth position alongside Australian Sarah Kemp and Austrian Christine Wolf, with Finland’s Minea Blomqvist alone in ninth place on eight-under-par.
It was Kristinsdottir who remained at the head of affairs after reeling off seven birdies and a bogey in scorching conditions in the United Arab Emirates, her mental coolness belying the experience of a rookie playing in only her sixth start on the Ladies European Tour.
“I’m the one who decides if I let it affect me, so I did everything the same as yesterday with no added pressure,” said Kristinsdottir. “I wasn’t really nervous and I was surprised, because it was so fun yesterday. The whole of Iceland was really excited for me and my phone was exploding, so I thought, ‘I need to stay calm’, and I managed to do it, so it was really good.”
Hall played earlier in the day and made eight birdies in benign conditions. She said: “I’m very happy because there were no bogeys and I played really well. Everything glued together and I had fun out there. I didn’t think of my score at all: I was just trying to make birdie after birdie.”
It was a similar story for Nocera (above), who made eight birdies but dropped two shots. She said: “I was hitting the ball close to the pin and then I made one of the longest putts I’ve made in my career across the green on the 12th, so it was really fun. I’m hitting the ball really well and my iron shots are good. The scores are so low, I never thought they’d be so low, but the greens really hold the ball well.”
Allen (above) is another experienced competitor in the mix, but after four birdies on the front nine, she double bogeyed the 10th and came home in level par.
“I played really well yesterday, but today I lost concentration on the back,” she explained. “I got really hot and I think I might be a little bit jet-lagged still. I was up early watching baseball, so I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll feel better and keep it going, because I had four under on the front. It’s so hot. I just need to keep hydrated and eat more, I think and maybe sleep through the night.”
While Allen, 34, is chasing Shanshan Feng in the race for the 2016 LET Order of Merit, fellow Californian Angel Yin, who is tied for 10th place, is second behind Nuria Iturrios in the Rookie of the Year rankings, raising the prospect of an unprecedented United States double in the LET awards this year.