Manon de Roey will go into the final day of the WPGA International Challenge at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf & Spa primed to dislodge the golfing monkey that has clung to her back since she turned professional.
Although the 26-year-old from Belgium has enjoyed a successful career since joining the paid ranks in 2015, not least gaining her Ladies European Tour card as a result of her top five finish in the LET Access Series Order of Merit 12 months ago, she has yet to win a tournament.
“As a professional I haven’t won a tournament, as yet,” she said after posting a five-under-par round of 67 to displace Felicity Johnson in pole position on 135.
There was a strong hint of steely determination in her ‘as yet’ before she added: “I’ve been close a couple of times but couldn’t finish things – so maybe this week.
“I’m playing well. I drive the ball a long way and my putting has been good.”
As with most scenarios there is a ‘but’ and as far as the prognosis for De Roey claiming the €5,600 winner’s cheque is concerned and ending her victory famine, the ‘but’ looms large.
Snapping at the heels of the 26-year-old are some pedigree pursuers. Johnson, who led at the end of round one negotiated the Gainsborough course at the Suffolk resort in two-under and is just two shots behind.
Another, Emma Nilsson, leads the LET Access Series Order of Merit.
Moreover, the Swede’s advantage is such that, with this and one more event to go, she is guaranteed one of the Ladies European Tour cards that go to the top five in the Order of Merit.
However, trailing De Roey by five shots, she may have too much to do to claim her second tournament success of the season.
Not so, Lydia Hall, the defending champion. Ominously for De Roey, as well has having ‘previous’ in this event, the 30-year-old from Wales replicated her seven-under-par 65 that set up her wire-to-wire victory 12 months ago.
That bogey-free round is the best posted in the tournament to date and leaves her a shot shy of De Roey on 136.
The accolade for the best shot of the tournament thus far has to go to Noemi Jimenez of Spain, although the way England’s Charlotte Thompson splashed out of a greenside bunker on the ninth after being forced to adopt a stance more suited to yoga than anything found in a golfing manual has to run it close.
Wielding a 54 degree wedge, Jimenez holed the 111-yard third in one, followed up with an eagle at the par-five fourth, and then had a triple bogey at the par-five 14th. It all added up to a two-under-par round of 70 that leaves her seven shots shy of De Roey.
Small wonder then she described her round as “crazy”. As for the hole-in-one, it was the ninth she has registered but her first as a professional. Perhaps then, that’s a good omen for De Roey.