The WPGA International Challenge and the Ladies European Tour card that will be guaranteed by winning it is Natalia Escuriola’s to squander.
The Spaniard, who began the second round sharing the lead with Iceland’s Olafia Kristinsdottir, had left the remainder of the 96-strong field puffing and blowing in her wake come its end. And she did so in some style. Four-under after her first negotiation of the Gainsborough Course at Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf and Spa, she followed up with a five-under-par round of 67.
In terms of comparisons, while her opening round was flawless, the second featured an ugly double bogey. However, Escuriola more than made amends in the Suffolk sunshine by posting seven birdies.
That return of five-under also represents the advantage she will take into the third and final round in pursuit of the €4,800 first prize.
More importantly, third in the rankings at the start of the season’s final LET Access tournament, she is on course to claim that coveted Ladies European Tour card which comes with a top five finish in the 15-event Series.
According to the 21-year-old, however, the possibility of earning a card is not influencing her thinking.
“I have not been thinking about the LET card,” she claimed. “I think I will just play golf tomorrow and see. I just want to have fun and finish the LET Access Series as strong as possible.
“As for today, I played really good, like yesterday, but this time my putts were better. I hit the ball close today again and kept the ball in play.”
While that added up to the round of the day, the shot of the day came from Germany’s Isi Gabsa by virtue of the approach she holed at the par five fourth for an albatross.
Gabsa and her compatriot, Olivia Cowan, lie second and first in the rankings respectively and have already secured their cards. By contrast, and with Escuriola seemingly certain to add her name to the list, the battle to claim the fourth and fifth on offer is set to go to the wire.
Not least because Finland’s Oona Vartiainen, who is sixth in the rankings, is joint second with Rachel Raastad on four-under-par.
Meanwhile, Georgia Hall, a former British amateur champion, is the best placed home player, lying joint fourth on three-under after beginning the day on level par.
The final day play commences tomorrow at 08.00am.