Friday, February 22, 2019

Spain's NurIa Iturrios leads Aussie Ladies Classic

Coffs Harbour, New South Wales: Nuria Iturrios (pictured) from Spain holds a four-shot lead midway through the Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic – Bonville after a superb second round of 67, played in strong winds and rain.
Just nine players are in red figures for the tournament with Iturrios leading on eight-under-par in total.
Overnight leader Doey Choi dropped to four-under and outright second with fellow Australian Hannah Green in third on three-under.
Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, Jenny Haglund and rookie Linnea Strom share fourth with Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord.
Those out early played through squally conditions with a fickle wind, which strengthened considerably for the afternoon wave.
Iturrios’ 67 was the best round of the day and she was only one of two players to break 70 along with Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen (69), lying in a share of 10th.
The 2016 Lalla Meryem Cup champion, 23, from Palma de Mallorca, carded five birdies on day two at Bonville Golf Resort. She said afterwards: “36 holes with no bogeys. I’m feeling so good! I’m feeling comfortable with my game, so let’s see. Hopefully 36 holes more.”
She has changed her swing over the winter to hit a lower shot, which helped her to control the ball in the wet and blustery conditions.
“I made three or four birdies in that wind, so I’m feeling so great. I’ll just keep hitting those low balls,” she said.
“I love to be in this position. Finally I have the cameras around me again! I’m going to have some mango sticky rice tonight and sleep well.”
Sydney amateur Doey Choi dropped two shots in her first three holes but then steadied the ship and had a 74. She said: “It was really windy out there, so I’m pleased with my score today. When you’re out there, it feels like you’re the only one, but I think I did a good job in holding it together and I think I did really well out there today.”
On playing in the last group with Iturrios and Green, she said: “I think I’ll be a little nervous but it’s not my first time in contention so I’ve just got to block it out and play my own game.”
Green remains highly motivated to win on home soil for the first time and takes comfort from her ball striking in the conditions.
She said: “I knew it was going to be difficult so I’m pleased to shoot level par and it felt like under par but I did leave a lot out there, so there are good signs for the next couple of days.”
Strom, who is playing in her first Ladies European Tour event as a rookie professional, was tied for third with Green but bogeyed the last hole in fading light.
She said: “It was very tough. You really needed to focus on every shot and I think that’s why I got a little tired at the end. I felt that it was a very long round and in this wind, it’s very difficult. I didn’t think about the score today. During the round, I didn’t know where I was at and I just tried to hit every shot wherever I decided to.”
She added that having former LET order of merit winner and Solheim Cup player Sophie Gustafson as her caddie was helpful. “I think we worked really well together as a team. We were both very clear about what kind of shots to hit and where to end up and it worked out well. Usually I don’t refer to her on the greens but today I thought with the wind and the grain, it was nice to have someone to discuss it with to make sure you don’t make any easy mistakes.”
Don’t miss the action from Bonville Golf Resort this weekend. The last group tees off at 9.20am with live coverage on television and live streaming online from 10.30am AEST.
Maguire looking for low number
Ireland’s Leona Maguire is 12 strokes off the pace halfway through her first LET event since turning professional but feels that an early tee time will give her the best chance to post a low number on Saturday.
With two days to go, she lies in a share of 37th on four-over-par, but her second round score of 75 doesn’t tell the whole story, as a near gale blew through Bonville Golf Resort on Friday afternoon, which made scoring extremely difficult for the later starters.
“We definitely got the rougher side of the draw, so I’m happy with how I managed that,” she said. “I mean, there were some tough winds out there today. I felt like I played pretty nicely coming in on the back side. Those last six holes were really playing tough. Most of them were back into the wind and it was swirling around. I was really patient. I didn’t have any birdies today but made some good pars which felt like birdies.”
Although Maguire was raised in Cavan, she has spent the last four years at Duke University in North Carolina and said that she is not used to playing in such strong winds in general.
“It was probably as strong as this at the Vic Open on Saturday, but today was pretty strong. Quite a few times I had to back off shots and leaves and branches were falling. Some holes we were allowing 30 yards. It just depended on which gust you caught,” she said.
Maguire will tee off at 7.40am from the ninth with China’s Xi Yu Lin and fellow rookie Diksha Dagar from India.
“Two more days to go so I’ll get out earlier tomorrow and try to post a low number.”

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