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Swedish teen opens six-shot lead in Kenya Open

Friday December 06 2019
swede_pix

Sweden's 18-year-old Julia Engstrom follows the flight of her tee shot during the first round of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open at Vipingo Ridge's Baobab course in Kilifi County on December 5, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY |

By LARRY NGALA

Sweden's Julia Engstrom increased her lead to six shots after a brilliant round of six under 66 in the second round as the inaugural Magical Kenya Ladies Open entered its half way mark at the great Vipingo Ridge's Baobab course on Friday.

The 18-year-old played a bogey-less three under par front nine after making birdies on the fourth, sixth and ninth. She started the back nine with two successive birdies at the 10th and 11th, then picked up two more back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th.

Engstrom was destined for even a better round until she tumbled at the 16th where she missed a putt for a par at the 16th though she was still very happy with her round.

"I played very solid. I started off well and made four birdies in the last five holes. I didn’t hole that many putts in the middle of the round, but I finished off well. I played solid and hit more greens today, so I’m happy with my round," she said.

Asked about the condition during the day, Engstrom said: "It was hot out there today and not as much breeze. It was quite humid so I can go into the air conditioning now and be happy''.

The Swede said it will be great if she wins though was careful not to be over confident. "It would be great. Obviously it’s golf and anything can happen. It’s a tough course, we are playing it long and you need to play decent. I’m happy with my two days and I had a good weekend in Spain. I’m very happy with my first two rounds. It’s great here. It’s my first time in Kenya and I’m really enjoying it,'' said Engstrom who now leads by six shots with a two rounds total of 11 under par 133 and ahead of Scotland's Kelsey MacDonald, Finland's Ursula Wikstrom, and German Esther Henseleit who tied for second place after shooting four under par 68 and two under 70, for a total of five under par 139.

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MacDonald dropped two shots at the first nine where she only birdied the second though she played well at the back nine where she birdied the 11th, 13th, 14th, 17th and 18th for the day's 68.

"I hit it great off the tee, gave myself a lot of chances and my putting was really solid today. It was great to get out in the first group when it was a little less humid. I’m just really happy with my performance today'' said MacDonald.

Germany's Esther Henseleit birdied the seventh in the first nine and 15at the back nine, and parred the rest to stay in close contact with the leader.

PHENOMENAL NINE

Michelle Thomson meanwhile said: "Definitely, Kelsey’s front nine was phenomenal and I was finding it hard to keep up with her. I decided to turn it on over our back nine and I had nine putts for nine holes, so that obviously helped my scorecard''.

Wikstrom on the other hand, birdied the second, fourth, eighth and ninth, then she hit nine straight. Scotland's Thomson and Finland's Sanna Nuutinen tied on fourth with four under par each after firing two identical scores of four under par 68 with Thomson having made seven birdies but against three bogeys.

On her part, Nuutinen made birdies at the ninth, 10th, 13th, 15th as well as at the 17th but she dropped shot in between (16th). Joining Nuutinen and Thomson for fifth place was American Cheyenne Woods who was followed by the local enthusiasts.

Woods fired her second two under par 70 for a total of four under par 140, thanks to her excellent seven iron second shot at the par five-15th hole for an eagle three, having birdied the seventh, eighth and ninth at the front nine, against three bogeys, two of them at the back nine's 13th and 16th.

“Same score as yesterday, but I did play very different. We played afternoon tee time, so it was a lot windier. The course played completely differently so I have to make some adjustments but, overall, my game feels really solid. I was able to get a few birdies in there and an eagle, so it felt pretty good.

“The hole if you hit a good drive, you can get down far enough to be in reach of the green in two. It played straight down wind today, so I had a seven iron into the green and I hit to about 25 feet and made the putt for eagle; so that was definitely a nice little momentum boost going into the stretch of the round'' said Woods.

A total of 70 players with seven over par and better scores made the second round cut and will now chase the money and points. The best local Naomi Wafula tied in 87th with 13 over 157 after posting seven over par 79 in the second round.

The leaderboard:

Julia Engstrom (Swe) 67, 66= 133

Kelsey MacDonald (Sco) 71, 68= 139

Ursula Wikstrom (Fin) 71, 68= 139

Esther Henseleit (Ger) 69, 70= 139

Michelle Thomson (Sco) 72, 68= 140

Sanna Nuutinen (Fin) 72, 68= 140

Cheyenne Woods (USA), 70, 70= 140

Aditi Ashok (Ind) 73, 70= 143

Tvesa Malik (Ind) 72, 71= 143

Astrid Vayson de Pradenne (Fra) 69, 74= 143.

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