Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen has grabbed a two shot lead at the top of the women’s standings after a second consecutive 6-under 67 while emerging Australian talent Jake McLeod blitzed the Creek Course in the morning with a stunning 61.
The young Queenslander holds a one stroke advantage over two players, former New Zealand Open winner Dimi Papadatos and veteran David McKenzie.
Larsen’s pursuers include England’s Holly Clyburn, LPGA regular Sandra Gal, and a pair of young Australians in Whitney Hillier and 2015 runner-up Su Oh.
The mix of youth and experience on both leaderboard signals a thrilling weekend of golf ahead as the combatants share the course in the unique tournament.
For the men Papadatos played in the morning wave and made the most of good scoring conditions with an 8-under 64 on the more difficult Beach Course while McKenzie shot an impressive 63 in the afternoon on the more vulnerable Creek Course.
Incredibly, McKenzie needed just 20 putts in his round which included 10 birdies and, almost unbelievably, a bogey.
“I’m always pretty good with the flatstick,” he joked when asked about his work on the greens after the round.
“Probably my best putting round since I had to get rid of the belly putter. That’s one of my strengths is the putter and today it was too.”
When pressed for details of his statistics McKenzie recounted the round aloud and came up with a total of 20 putts.
“I think I one putted the first, the second, the third, the fourth, the sixth, the seventh, the eighth,” he said before drawing breath.
“I putted from off the green on 10, one putted 11 and one putted 12, 13, 15, 16, 17 and 18…so yeah, I think that’s 20.
“The funny thing is that on the 12th green I said to myself if I two putt in I could have 26 putts.”
While McKenzie was finding the hole with monotonous regularity leader McLeod relied on good ball striking to get to 13-under at the halfway stage.
He managed a remarkable eight birdies and two eagles in his round offsetting a dropped shot at the 14th.
Overnight leader David Bransdon followed up his opening 64 with a 1-under 71 to be 9-under and sharing sixth.
The women’s title is also shaping as a shootout with a host of well credentialed players lining up behind Broch Larsen should she stumble over the closing 36 holes.
Having earned her LPGA Tour card for 2017, Broch Larsen is feeling confident in her game and says she is comfortable in the lead despite not feeling she is hitting the ball particularly well.
“It’s been a long time,” she said. “I had a win on the Symetra tour in October but on the LET it’s been a while since I was on top.
“But I’m looking forward to it. It’s just two days and it’s just golf so we’ll see.”
First round leader Laura Davies struggled on day two and was 6-over after nine holes but clawed back three shots on the back nine to finish 5-under at the halfway mark and T18.
Nicole Broch Larsen - photo Bruce Young
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