LPGA Tour winner Maja Stark put the pedal down during the second round of the FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open presented by Trust Golf, firing a 7-under 65 that saw the Swede make one bogey and eight birdies. The 23-year-old grabbed her first birdie of the day on the par-5, 3rd hole, quickly finding another on the par-5, 5th hole. She made another on No. 8 to turn in 33 but dropped a shot with a bogey on the 10th hole, now sitting at 5-under overall. Stark parred 11 and then went on a tear, rattling off five consecutive birdies from holes 12 to 16, closing with a pair of pars to post her lowest score since day two of the 2022 ANNIKA driven by Gainbridge at Pelican, where she fired a 7-under, 63.
The 65 is also Stark's lowest round of the 2023 season and is her first round in the 60s since Thursday of the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. It's the second time on both the LPGA and Ladies European Tours that Stark has recorded five birdies in a row, with the last time on the LPGA coming in the final round of the 2022 Portland Classic and the last time on the LET coming in the second round of the 2022 Trust Golf Asian Mixed Stableford Challenge. Considering she battled a brutal headache on her first few holes, Stark was pleased with how she overcame that adversity and will ride this wave of confidence into the weekend as she looks to track down her second LPGA Tour title in Ayrshire, Scotland.
"It was very solid today. I had a really frustrating headache on the first six holes. So I didn't really care about my game, to be honest. Maybe it was a good thing that I didn't really pay attention," said Stark, who hit 12 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens despite the early-round pain. "But then we got that figured out and started making some putts. Bogey on 10 really made me start sharpening up. And then just felt like everything went smooth. I had a lot of confidence today."
This is Stark's second start in the FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open, and in her first appearance last year at Dundonald Links, the Swede missed the cut. This is her 14th start of the 2023 season, and so far this year, she has earned five top-15 finishes, the most notable of which are a tie for second at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions and a tie for ninth at the U.S. Women's Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, another links-style venue. While she struggled at this venue last year, links golf is actually something that Stark quite enjoys playing. She's currently sitting at 10-under and two back of the lead held by Hinako Shibuno, and considering that her lone LPGA Tour victory came in Northern Ireland, another country that's known for its links-style golf courses, it will be no surprise to see Stark continue this tear of stellar golf over the next 36 holes.
"I think I've noticed that I play better when I feel like I have lots of open spaces around me because it doesn't feel like I focus on the wrong things," she said. "Like, for example, Evian, I could only look at the trees that I could hit into, and then I do. So it's nicer to be here, and I love links golf. I think that's also a factor.
"The conditions weren't too bad today. They were worse yesterday and looks like they're going to be worse tomorrow and Sunday. So just have to keep my confidence and fake it if I have to."