Germany’s Karolin Lampert shot a solid second-round 69 in glorious conditions to hold the lead going into the final day of the Investec South African Women’s Open in Cape Town.
At five-under-par, she holds a one stroke advantage over the first-round leader, South African Ashleigh Buhai, who shot a 71 at Westlake Golf Club.
Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia boxed a 25-foot putt for birdie on the 18th green for a 71 to lift herself into third position on three-under, while Iceland’s Valdis Thora Jonsdottir and Maha Haddioui from Morocco share fourth on one-under-par.
Lampert, who is playing in her first start of the season after an extended break, is chasing her first victory on the Ladies European Tour, although she previously won the 2015 Azores Ladies Open on the LET Access Series.
The 23-year-old from Golf Club St. Leon Rot said: “I’m really happy with my game today. My long game was much better than yesterday so I’m really happy about that and looking forward to tomorrow. It was great to go out early and post a low round. I played solidly the last two days. I’m looking forward to playing with Ashleigh and it will be fun, so we’ll see who ends up on top.”
Buhai also enjoyed the tranquil conditions and despite three bogeys coming in, she remained upbeat. The 28-year-old from Johannesburg, who won her national title twice as an amateur, said: “I thought I played very steady on my front nine, which was the back nine today. I had a steady start and hit some good shots. It ran a little long in the first few holes. I got myself in a little downward spiral on the last four holes and made three birdies, but I saw the leader was on five-under, so I really wanted to make that birdie on nine and holed a really good birdie to do that.”
While Buhai, with two victories on the LET, is one of the most experienced players in the field, Bredenhann is chasing her breakthrough professional title. The number one amateur in SA for two years played on the LET for four years but lost her card in 2016 and she has since built up her own business fitting granite kitchen worktops. Prior to this week, she prepared by playing on her local sand course and thanked Namibia Wildlife Resorts for supporting her comeback.
Overwhelmed at her own ability, she cannot believe that she’s in the last three-ball on Sunday.
“I didn’t expect this, at all. I don’t know that to say. I started playing yesterday and everything came together and it stayed together today as well, so I’m really, really happy,” she said.
“This is the first big tournament for me in quite a few years. I’m going to be walking up to the first tee in the last group, in contention. I can’t remember when I was last in this spot.
“Today, I think the nerves got to me a little bit, so I had a few dropped shots but I kept it together and came back on the last nine with two birdies. On the last putt, I was a bit shaky, but when I looked at it and I hit it, it was just perfect and in the hole.”
There are two other potential first-time winners on the leader board in Jonsdottir and Haddioui, who shot rounds of 69 and 71 on the tight and tree-lined course in the afternoon respectively.
Haddioui said: “It’s a position I haven’t been in this year. I struggled in the first two events, so it’s nice to be able to play some good golf, especially on this course as it’s very challenging. I’m very happy to be in South Africa, as it’s a place I love and I haven’t been here for a while. I’m just very excited to be here and to be able to play on a course like this.
“I don’t think it’s a course where you want to be too aggressive, because a lot of trouble can come. I’m just going to keep it simple and try to make putts.”
England’s Florentyna Parker had a second consecutive round of 72 to sit five shots off the pace in solo sixth spot. The five players a shot further back are Sweden’s Lina Boqvist, Austrian Christine Wolf, South African Tandi McCallum, England’s Kiran Matharu and Ana Menendez from Mexico.
After an opening 78, the defending champion Lee-Anne Pace fought back with a 69 to be on three-over-par and is eight strokes from the lead heading into the last day.