Amandeep Drall is best Indian at Tied-eighth, while Australian Whitney Hillier takes sole lead at HWIO 19
Gurugram, October 04, 2019: Whitney Hillier rode a roller coaster of a back nine which she rounded off with two birdies at the very end to sneak ahead of everyone into the sole lead at the end of the second round of the Hero Women’s Indian Open on Friday. Hillier who shot five-under on the first day for a share of the lead, dropped to three-under at one stage but fought back superbly in the last seven holes to rise to the top at six-under and was one ahead of Marianne Skarpnord (68-71), who had the clubhouse lead for the most part of the day.
The first round co-leader Meghan MacLaren dropped back to shared third place alongside Linda Wessberg of Sweden at 2-under 140. Three players including Christine Wolf (73-68) were Tied-fifth at three-under 141, while another three, including India’s Amandeep Drall (72-70) were Tied-eighth at two-under 142.
Amandeep, a consistent player on the domestic circuit, who has never had a Top-10 finish in an LET event, finished her day with three birdies on the 16th, 17th and 18th which are considered the toughest stretch on the Gary Player course at DLF Golf and Country Club. She shot 70 today and is now two-under 142 and Tied-eighth. With the cut falling at seven-over, 68 players made the weekend rounds and that included 10 Indians, four of them amateurs, auguring well for Indian women’s golf.
Overnight co-leader Hillier, playing one group ahead of Amandeep, had one birdie and one bogey on the front nine but a double bogey on the 10th set her back. She roared back with four birdies in the last seven holes to take the lead.
Said Hillier on her day’s progress, “I was very calm all day. I stayed in the present and just tried to hit the best shots I could. It was actually very challenging with the wind so I had to judge that quite a lot. I hit a couple of really good shots but got punished. Had some really good putts coming in though.”
She added, “I had a few steady pars to start off with. Had one bogey then I got it back pretty quickly. And then I was 2-over after 10th. The 10th hasn't been very good to me so far but I am going to get it back on the weekend. I made a few good birdies coming in and then obviously at the 17th & 18th, was good to finish with those last two putts. So very happy with today.”
In the morning Skarpnord, who is the highest-ranked player on LET rankings in this week’s field, seemed to be in a bother as she turned in two-over on the back nine, which was her front nine. She had a triple bogey on 11th and a bogey on the 16th against birdies on 13th and 18th. She rebounded strongly on the second nine with birdies on the first, third, fourth and fifth to get to six-under before dropping a shot on sixth to finish 36 holes in five-under.
Skarpnord said, “I had an early tee time today and I was pretty sure I was awake, but obviously I was not. Had a little 7 (3-over) there on the 11th hole, not a great start to the round. But I did my best to just forget about it. I said to myself on the next tee to forget about what had just happened. If you are going to go on thinking about it for the next 16 holes, you might as well just go home.”
Tvesa Malik (72-72) and Vani Kapoor (74-70) played steadily to ensure passage past the cut and are Tied-15th. Starting from the 10th, Tvesa was one-over for the back nine, her first nine, and one-under for the front nine of the course just like the first day.
Also starting on 10th, Kapoor, sixth in 2017, was one-under for back nine and on the front stretch she had two birdies and one bogey.
The bravest Indian on the second day was Diksha Dagar (72-73), who started the day with a quadruple bogey. She hit the far right and went back to the tee and had a four-putt on the green for an eight. She fought back with three birdies on third, fourth and eighth. Again she dropped shots on 11th and 12th, only to birdie the 13th and 14th. Then she saved an improbable par on the 18th hole after hitting into the water with the first shot. Her approach shot, which became her third shot, sailed over the water and curled along and found its way into the cup from 115 yards for a par. She is one-over 145 and Tied-22nd.
Gaurika Bishnoi (73-74) was Tied-31st, while fast-rising amateur Anika Varma (76-72) and Astha Madan (73-75) were in shared 37th place at 4-over 148. Amateurs Jahnavi Bakshi (74-76) and Pranavi Urs (71-79) were Tied-51st at 6-over 150. Yet another amateur Seher Atwal (74-77), studying in the US, just made the grade at 7-over 151.
Missing out were some big names, including defending champion Becky Morgan (77-80) of Wales and pre-tournament favourite Carly Booth (81-76) of Scotland, both of who finished on 13-over par 152.
MacDonald gets early birthday gift with an ace
The Par-3 16th was the scene of much jubilation once again as Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald gave herself an early birthday present with a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th using a 7-iron during the second round. She turns 29 on Saturday.
Kelsey also used the same club as Jyotsana Singh did on the first day to get the ace at the same hole.
Kelsey (76-72) was actually six-over for the tournament with three holes left when she landed the hole-in-one. It brought her to four-over and with pars on 17 and 18, she stayed there to make the cut and is T-36.
Meanwhile Jyotsana Singh (73-89) who had an ace on Thursday suffered a 16-shot swing and missed the cut.
The DLF Golf and Country Club has been a good hunting ground for Scots in recent times. Stephen Gallacher won the Hero Indian Open for men this year, and in 2017, Duncan Stewart had won a BMW M3 with an ace on the fifth hole.