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Belen Mozo takes five shot lead into NZ Women's Open weekend

Mozo and her caddie celebrate her hole in one (Photo: Photo Sport NZ)
The McKayson New Zealand Women’s Open has reached the halfway stage at Windross Farm south of Auckland with Spain’s Belen Mozo racing to a five-shot lead after a record-setting round of 64 on the one-year-old layout.

Mozo, from Cadiz in Spain but who resides in Scottsdale in Arizona, is without a victory to date on the LPGA Tour after originally becoming a member in 2011.

Today however she produced a round that was already heading for something special before holing out for an ace at the par-three 13th hole to move into a five-shot lead at that point.

Unfortuntaely for Mozo, the Infinity car for a hole-in-one on that hole only applies over the weekend but the eagle created an even bigger cushion to take into the weekend. 

The 29-year-old added another eagle at the reachable par-five 14th but what was building as an almost assailable lead halted briefly when she double bogeyed the par-three 17th before adding a birdie at the last for a round that surpassed the 65s of Brooke Henderson, Jodi Ewart Shadoff and Emily Tubert recorded earlier.

Mozo is struggling for her playing future on the LPGA Tour after a season which is well below her capabilities. She is currently 131st on the money list and needs perhaps as much as 5th place finish this week to assure herself of regaining her full LPGA Tour status for 2018.  

“When you score like this, everything seems so easy,” said Mozo soon after she walked from the course. I got perfect weather but you still have to perform well,” Mozo said.

“I played really easy golf and left myself very makeable putts. I struck the ball really well and overall I was in a very calm state of mind.”

Mozo is a former British Amateur and British Girls' Amateur Championship winner and given that background has perhaps under-achieved in the professional ranks.

That might all change on Sunday but ahead of her she will have perhaps two of the most nerve-racking and yet exciting rounds of her life.

Mozo leads by five over Emily Tubert, another looking to regain her LPGA Tour status in this the last full-field event of the 2017 season, Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom and the highly talented Canadian Brooke Henderson.

Given the relative inexperience of those around her this week, Henderson shapes as the player who could be the one to challenge for the title on Sunday despite being five shots back at present.

Crowds again flocked to the Windross Farm layout to see the tournament host and ambassador Lydia Ko who did not let them down with a round of 68 to move to 6 under and although still eight shots from the lead she is hardly out of it given she is just three shots from second place.

Ko was bogey-free and only missed one fairway (she made a birdie there anyway) in a continuation of her recent improvement. Ko has already played her part in making this tournament a success but she has more to do and this weekend she gets the chance to further grow the legend that is Lydia Ko.

“I made a few putts for birdies,” Ko said. “I missed a few too but I made a few more than I did yesterday. There are [a] lot of positives, a lot of solid things in my game the last couple of days. Hopefully I can take that into the weekend.”

Australian chances were improved when Sarah Jane Smith joined Su Oh in a share of 18th position with her second round of 66.

Sarah Kemp 35th and Stacey Peters 54th are also into the weekend field as are Whitney Hillier and Katherine Kirk who made the cut on the number.









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