STEEN LEADS AT HALFWAY STAGE OF ISPS HANDA WORLD INVITATIONAL
Marissa Steen produced a round of 72 (-1) to put herself in pole position at the top of the leaderboard at the ISPS HANDA World Invitational Presented by AVIV Clinics.
The American began the day on two-under-par, which she carded at Galgorm, and headed to the Links of Castlerock.
Being in the first group out, Steen got the best of the conditions on what turned out to be a very gusty and damp day.
The 33-year-old made two bogeys and three birdies for her round of 72 and moved to the top of the leaderboard with a total of three-under-par.
“I told my caddie before we started just to stay patient today with how windy it was going to be,” said Steen. “This course is so exposed being so close to the water, so it was really all I was trying to do was stay patient. That was really my only thought.
“Galgorm is a lot of a different challenge than this course with it being parkland, and the wind out there is harder to judge because, with more trees, it just swirls more. Out here where it's so exposed it was just more trusting that I had the right club and I had accounted for the wind properly.
“I feel like I've put some good weeks together so far this season. My game feels really close. I was bummed to not make the AIG last week, but I had some good time to just work on my golf game.
“It feels good to see that paying off this week as well. I feel like my game has been pretty solid. Maybe not putting it all together at exactly the right time, but things feel good.”
Germany’s Esther Henseleit sits in outright second place on the leaderboard after shooting a round of 71 (-2) at Castlerock.
The two-time LET winner had five birdies and three bogeys on her scorecard on day two in Northern Ireland to move into contention.
“I did not make many changes from yesterday to today,” said Henseleit. “I guess the golf course is very different. Out here it's much firmer, but it was windy yesterday as well, so you need some low shots and to just hit fairways, hit greens, and make your putts.
“I hit it into a pot bunker twice today; made bogey both times. I guess that's the medicine you have to take on a links golf course. Other than that, I played really solid.
“I'm really confident at the moment on the golf course. I'm rolling some putts in, so that's nice to see. I feel good. Yesterday was good as well. Just one little bad shot that cost me coming in.
“The plan is to just keep grinding in the wind really. Don't make any stupid mistakes. Just play your pars. Some putts might go in and you get some birdies, but just keep it in play in the wind.”
Four players are in a share of third place with England’s Gabriella Cowley, Germany’s Olivia Cowan, Switzerland’s Kim Metraux and American Ryann O’Toole all on one-under-par.
Cowley, who was one of the co-leaders overnight, had a tough day at Galgorm carding a round of 75 (+3) but remains just two shots off the lead.
“Conditions were really tough this morning especially early on with it being cold as well as windy and to have the rain, but I knew it was going to be a battle and I just had to grind a score out,” said the Englishwoman.
“Galgorm is always tough; I played the last few years here and it’s a tough layout, but you just have to commit to your shots around here. Going forward, I will be playing the same as the last few days. I just want to stick to the game plan and commit to it.”
Germany’s Cowan has had a solid first two days with rounds of 72 at both Castlerock and Galgorm to be one-under-par.
“I played nicely out there,” said LET winner Cowan. “I grinded it through. It was tough at times, but I just tried to keep level-headed and carry on, I did well.
“On 18, I got robbed there! I think my putt hit something midway, so it bumped left, but it was still a good par and I’m happy with my round. Every week is great to finish off strong and it's important, so I'm just happy that I'm playing good golf and that I'm in contention. I’m going to try and continue that.”
Metraux began her round in style today with an eagle on the 10th and having had the worst of the afternoon conditions, she battled well for a round of 75 (+3) to remain just two shots off the lead.
“It was good,” said the Swiss star. “I hit it just on the back edge of the green in two and managed to roll in the 12-footer for eagle. It was nice to get a few ahead early and just have a bit of a margin for what was coming next with the wind and the tricky conditions.
“Thankfully we didn't have as much rain as planned. It was very tricky with the wind, some tee shots, and even some shots into the green were quite tricky. Hitting fairways and greens was key. I didn't get to do that all day long but managed to limit the trouble so really happy with the fight today.”
Five players are in a tie for seventh place with India’s Diksha Dagar, Wales’ Chloe Williams, Korea’s Soo Bin Joo, Thailand’s Jasmine Suwannapura and Australia’s Karis Davidson all on level par.
The cut fell at +5 with 63 players making it through to the third round, which will be played at Galgorm on Saturday, and there will be a further cut to the top 35 players and ties at the 54-hole mark.
In the men’s competition, England’s Dan Brown is still out in front with a total of 11-under-par and holds a six-shot lead at the 36-hole mark.