Wolf runs ahead of the pack to take four-shot lead at Hero Women's Indian Open
Gurgaon, Oct 19 (PTI) Austrian Christine Wolf slotted birdies almost at will to card a second successive 4-under 68 and open up a massive four-shot lead over the rest of the field at the halfway stage of the Hero Women's Indian Open here on Friday.
Wolf, who had never shot a round in the 60s in her previous four visits to India, including three of them to this DLF Golf and Country Club course, has now done it twice in last two days.
With seven birdies in a sparkling nine-hole stretch and three bogeys, she shot 68 to set herself up for her maiden LET win in a six-year long pro career. Her best at HWIO is T-11 in 2016, when she had a share of the lead after the first day.
The middle segment of the scorecard was liberally sprinkled with seven birdies in a nine-hole stretch from the fifth to the 13th holes. She reached 10-under at one stage but bogeys on the 14th and 17th brought her back to 8-under, which was still enough to give her a four-shot lead over Thailand's Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras (68-72).
The Thai, who plays on the LPGA, looked like catching up with the Austrian as she reached 6-under with two holes to go. She ran into a disastrous triple bogey on Par-4 eighth, which was her 17th hole as she hit into the water twice. She birdied the final hole get to 4-under and four behind Wolf.
India's Tvesa Malik (72-71) was Tied-7th alongside Denmark's Nicole Broch Larsen (74-69), French Celine Boutier (72-71) and Thai Kanphanitan Muangkhumsakul (72-71).
On a day when Wolf rose above all, Indian golf too took a huge step forward with eight Indians, including three amateurs, making the cut that fell at 7-over.
Led by Tvesa, the others were Gaurika Bishnoi (71-74) at T-16th, Ridhima Dilawari (69-77) at T-27th, Vani Kapoor (77-73), Astha Madan (75-75) and amateur Pranavi Urs (76-74) at T-51st, besides two more amateurs Sifat Sagoo (72-79) and Diksha Dagar (75-76) at T-61st.
This was the highest number of Indians making the cut in the history of the Hero Women's Indian Open.
Overnight leader, Norway's Tonje Daffinrud (66-75) was 1-under through 13 holes, before she triple bogeyed the 14th and dropped yet another shot on 15th to lose four shots in two holes. She parred the rest for 75 and was 3-under 141 and third.
Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord (68-74), French golfer Manon Molle (72-70) and England's Eleanor Givens are 2-under and Tied-4th.
Wolf, who lists rock climbing as one of her passions, may well have been in double digits under par, but for the dropped shots on the 14th and the rocky 17th.
"I'm really pleased with the way I played yesterday and also today. I hit a lot of greens and hit my iron shots close, so I gave myself a lot of chances and I really enjoyed it out there. I made a lot of birdies and tried to keep high numbers off the score card," Wolf said.
"I've always liked this course but never played well. It's only halfway, so still a lot of golf to be played. I hit every fairway today. This course suits my eye and it's just fantastic when you walk around it, it's beautiful."
Tvesa Malik, who shot two-under par rounds of 71 each while winning the last WGAI event three weeks ago at this very course, outscored her experienced playing partners, Beth Allen, who won the Order of Merit in 2016, and Caroline Hedwall, HWIO champion and Order of Merit winner in 2011. Hedwall is now T-27th and Allen is T-30th.
"I'm disappointed with today, I feel I could have finished much better, I had a lot of good chances for birdies especially in the last 4-5 holes but I could not convert. My game has been good so hopefully tomorrow and day after will be better. I started really good with two birdies on the 10th and 11th, had another birdie on the 16th but after that I just missed a lot of birdies," Tvesa said.
Playing her second HWIO as a pro, Tvesa, Order of Merit leader on the domestic WGAI circuit, was aided by a birdie-birdie start on the tenth. She had two more birdies after that on Par-3 16th and Par-4 second, but she also dropped three shots on 14th, third and fifth