Leslie Cloots repeated her opening round of one-under-par 71 for a two-under 142 total to lead the 64 qualifiers for the match-play stages of the Ladies' British open amateur championship after another windy day at Dundonald Links, Ayrshire in Scotland.
Beaten in the 2014 final at Royal St George's in 2014, Leslie, from Antwerp, Belgium and a student at North Carolina University, is confident of another good run in this championship but she is not counting any chickens yet!
"The tournament starts all over again tomorrow and match-play is a different game from stroke-play," said Cloots who birdied the long fifth, the short 11th and the long 14th in halves of 37 (one over) and 34 (two under).
The Belgian has a tough opening tie - against GB and I Curtis Cup stalwart Leona Maguire (Slieve Russell and Duke University). The Irish player was one of 10 players on 12-over-par 156, the limit mark for qualifying. Three players on 156, Gioia Carpinelli (Switzerland), Stina Resin (Norway) and China's Xiaolin Tian, lost out on the comparison of second-round cards.
World No 2 Leona Maguire and American Curtis Cup player Monica Vaughn, who also had a 156 aggregate, made it by virtue of their second-round 79s. The luck of the automatic draw pits Monica against GB and I Curtis Cup player Olivia Mehaffey (Royal Co Down Ladies), the world No 8 in the first round. Mehaffey and her team-mate from the Dun Laoghaire contest, world no 3 (in this week's re-ranking) Bronte Law, were joint second best on 145 with matching scores of 74 and 71. Olivia shaded Bronte for the No 2 seeding.
Spain's 18-year-old Maria Parra, demoted to No 4 in the world rankings this week, qualified as the ninth seed but two world rankers are now on the sidelines - No 7 Linnea Storm failed to make it with a 157 total and Swedish team-mate Luna Sobron, the world No 10 missed out on 159. Another "name" player who did not make it among the leading 64 was GB and I Curtis Cup player Alice Hewson (Berkhamsted). Rounds of 79 and 81 for 161 were five shots too many in the final analysis.
There is a youthful look about this year's championship and the leading qualifiers The average age of the field of 144 is only 20.29. Top seed Cloots and Law are 21, Mehaffey is 18. Then come the youngsters. Fourth seed is Swede's 15-year-old Julia Engstrom who had scores of 74 and 72 for 146. Fifth seed is another 15-year-old who is also Swedish, Amanda Linner (74-73 for 147). Sixth seed is 16-year-old Frida Kinhult, another rising Swedish star. She was the first player to break 70 in the championship, making a 10 shot improvement from an opening 79 to a 69.
"I thought the conditions were a little bit easier today until the wind got up again on our second nine," said the 21-year-old Bronte from Bramhall GC, Cheshire and a student at UCLA. "I birdied the third, eighth and ninth today and had nine straight pars after the turn. Couldn't get the birdie putts to drop but I played solid golf which is what I want to be playing for the match-play."
Does Law, English champion for the past two years and now No 3 in the world rankings , fancy her chance of a first British title? "Well, in match-play, anything can happen but I am in a pretty confident frame of mind, coming to Scotland on the back of a lot of good results. I just have to continue to play the way I am playing these links. It's not the kind of course you can attack."
Olivia Mehaffey, 18, from the Royal Co Down Ladies Club in Northern Ireland, will enrol at Arizona State University in August. She has a golfing CV over the past couple of years that elevated her to the world's top 10 ranked female amateurs.
She was steadiness personnified in her second round with only three deviations from par - birdies at two par-5 holes, the third and the 18th - and one bogey, at the 10th. Sixteen-year-old Frida Kinhult, who lives on an island an hour and half's drive north of Gothenburg, became the first play to break 70 in the qualifying. She shot a 69, an improvement of 10 strokes on her Day 1 score, for a total of 148.
"I struck the ball a lot better today and lots of good things happened to me today in comparison with yesterday," said Frida.
"I had my first-ever albatross - a 2 at the par-5 fifth and five birdies as well. The fifth was into the wind and I was about 205yd from the green with my drive. I took a three wood. I knew it was a good shot but when we got up to the green, I could not see the ball. Leona (playing partner Leona Maguire) suggested it might be in the hole and when I looked, it was there! "I also holed from 16yd, from off the green, for a 2 at the short sixth. And I birdied 13, 14 and 15 with a wedge to 4yd, a two-putt 4 at 14, and holed a 2yd putt for my third 2 of the round, at the 15th."
But the course bit back at the last hole which cost her a bogey 6. "I was in the right rough from the tee and in the left rough with my second shot. Finished up missing the green with my third and couldn't save par. So that brought me down to earth again," said Frida who has still to make up her mind about going to college in the United States.qual She made her debut in the "British" last year at Portstewart where she qualified 60th out of 64 and lost in the second round
Zhen Bontan (Netherlands) had a hole in one at the short 11th on her way to a 78 but her total of 158 meant she did not qualify for the match-play stages. Top seed Leslie Cloots (Belgium) had a hole in one in Tuesday's first qualifying round.
ROUND 1 CSS : 77 Reduction Only
ROUND 2 CSS : 77 Reduction Only