Can Swede Engström weather the storm ?
Sweden’s Julia Engström had a near-perfect day on the second day of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by M-Pesa, dropping only one shot and holing seven birdies to return an impressive score of 6-under par 66. Her stunning performance takes her total score, after 36 holes, to 11-under 133, opening up a comfortable six-shot lead at the top.
Julia, who started her round from the tenth tee in the morning, got off to consecutive birdies at the par-4 10th and the par-5 11th before holing consecutive birdies at the par-4 13th and the par-4 14th. She holed the only bogey of the round at the par-4 16th to card a back nine total of 33. On the front nine, she played exceptionally well, holing birdies at the par-3 fourth, the par-5 sixth and the par-4 ninth to card a total of 33.
Speaking after the round, the 2018 Ladies European Tour Rookie of the Year said she was happy with her performance adding that she is enjoying her first visit to Kenya.
“I started off well and made four birdies in the last five holes. I didn’t hole that many putts in the middle of the round, but I finished off well. I hit more greens today, so I’m happy with my round,” she said.
“It is my first time in Kenya and I’m really enjoying it. It is quite hot but it’s pretty cold in Sweden right now so I’m enjoying the last sunshine of the year,” she added.
Asked whether she had started entertaining the possibility of this event being her first Tour victory, she said: “It would be great. Obviously, it is golf, and anything can happen. It is a tough course; we are playing it long and you need to play decent. I’m happy with my two days and I had a good weekend in Spain.”
With her second-round performance, Julia established a comfortable lead over nearest joint challengers, Kelsey Macdonald of Scotland and Ursula Wikström of Finland who both ended their round with 5-under par 139 scores from the two rounds.
Kelsey, who started her round at the tenth, carded a superb back nine total of 31, having holed birdies at the par-5 11th, the par-4 13th, par-4 14th, par-3 17th and the par-4 18th. On the front nine, she carded a total of 37 having dropped shots at the fifth and seventh holes, and having only made birdie at the second hole. Hers was a step up in performance from yesterday where she returned a 1-under par 71 score after 18 holes.
Speaking after her round, Kelsey said: “I hit it great off the tee, gave myself a lot of chances and my putting was really solid today. It was great to get out in the first group when it was a little less humid. I’m just really happy with my performance today.”
On her part, Ursula had a blemish-free scorecard; carding a 33 on the back nine having held par on all holes. It is at the front nine where she found form, holing birdies at the second, fourth, eighth and ninth holes for a total of 32.
Meanwhile, Golf Park’s elite amateur Naomi Wafula – who was one of two Kenyans left in the field, missed the Cut to play in the remaining two rounds after she carded a 7-over par 72 score for the round to take her total to 13-over par 157 after 36 holes. By the time of going to press, Bhavi Shah, the only other Kenyan in the field, was 23-over par for the tournament after 17 holes.