Hero Women's Indian Open 2023

Gaurika, Amandeep in four-way lead with Noora and Caroline at Hero Women's Indian Open

Gurugram, October 21:Gaurika Bishnoi played an electric second nine on the front side of the DLF Golf & Country Club to get into a four-way lead at the midway stage of the Hero Women’s Indian Open 2022.

Gaurika, 25, who has never missed the cut in four previous starts at the Hero Women’s Indian Open, joined fellow Indian Amandeep Drall (67-72), Finland’s Noora Komulainen (67-72) and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall (68-71) at 5-under at the top of the leader board, which comprised two players each from India and Scandinavia. Lying sole fifth was another Swede Elin Arvidsson (68-72) at 4-under.

On a day, when almost all the players were unanimous in the opinion that the pin positions were trickier than the first day, Gaurika brought home the best card at 4-under 68, and only a dozen players shot in red numbers.

The Indian contingent had a fine day with 15 players, including three amateurs, making the cut to ensure weekend action.

The 2016 winner, Aditi Ashok returning to the National Open for the first time since 2017, stayed in the hunt despite missing a bunch of makeable putts. She shot a bogey-free 71 to get to 3-under and was tied-sixth alongside England’s Meghan MacLaren (72-69), Spaniard Luna Sobron Galmes (69-72) and South African Nicole Garcia (69-72).

Aditi said, “I missed a lot of putts, but the good part was that I played bogey-free, so the feelings are mixed.”

Gaurika started Day 2 on tenth tee on a none-too-happy note with bogeys on her first two holes. She got back the shots with birdies on 13th and 16th. Then on her second nine, the front side of her home course, Gaurika, once again bogeyed on the first. Then she laughingly said the ‘home course advantage’ kicked in and the remaining eight holes saw her sink no less than five birdies.

Gaurika confessed, “I didn't have the best of starts today. I was two over through two holes but I made a birdie on my 4th hole (16th of the course) so the momentum came back. There was another good birdie on 16th and I was one under through the front nine.”

On the back nine, she excelled with five birdies and one bogey on the first (her 10th hole). She added, “I definitely set up a lot more birdie opportunities today as compared to yesterday. I wouldn't say I converted all of them. I did hit some of them close, some were longish. So it was like a mix of birdies.”

She holed a 20-25 footer on sixth, but the others were inside 12 feet. She said, “I think it's definitely a mix of everything because you cannot have birdies without setting up birdies, and you cannot have birdies also without holing those birdie parts. So it a bit of everything that got me up the 4-under today. Being the home course, some things come instinctively to here. I've been playing here for 13 years. That's why they say that there's a home course advantage."

Amandeep’s bogey-free run ended early this morning as she dropped a shot on the 11th after starting from the tenth. Back-to-back birdies on 14th and 15th ensured she turned in one-under. The second nine was a roller coaster with two birdies and three bogeys for an even-par 72.

She said, “Today's round was very similar to yesterday's. Nothing good or bad. It's just like I missed it on 2-3 wrong places where I ended up dropping a shot because it's really tough from there. And the course is such that if you miss it at the wrong spot, you end up dropping a shot. So that's exactly what happened today."

The 31-year-old Finn Noora Komulainen, who has never won on the LET in her 10-year-old pro career, has nevertheless played steady in India. She has never missed the cut in previous six starts and her best has been T-6 in 2018. This year has been good for her in Aramco team series events, as she has been in the team that finished first in Sotogrande, second in New York and third in Bangkok, but individually her results have been modest.

She said, “This is one of my favourite events of the year and I’ve always played well here so I was really looking forward to this week. I’m really enjoying my time here in India. Over the next two days, I guess I will just have a mindset to hit it straight and try to make birdies.”

Hedwall, who has one win and two runner-up finishes at the HWIO (only one runner-up finish had been at the Gary Player layout), said, “I think I was playing as well as I did yesterday, really. I just didn't get off to a great start. I three-putted on one and missed on the wrong side of the green on 3. But then I got going and made birdies on 7-8-9. I made a long putt on no 7 and then two-putted on 8 for birdie and hit it close on nine. So it was nice to turn that to one-under.”

Meghan MacLaren, who is having a fine season with one win in Australia and two runner-up finishes in Italy and France, had the best round of the morning at 3-under on a day – that was later bettered by Gaurika Bishnoi who shot 68.

Meghan, tied for 23rd after an even-par first round, had five birdies against two bogeys, and rose to Tied-sixth by the end of the day and looks to add another good finish at the HWIO to go alongside her third-place finish in 2019 and T-9 in 2017 at the same event.