France’s Anais Meysonnier and Gudrun Bjorgvinsdottir from Iceland navigated cold and breezy conditions to shoot second rounds of 71 and 72 respectively and share the lead at two-under-par heading into the final round of the Santander Golf Tour LETAS El Prat, the LET Access Series’ season-ender taking place in El Prat, Barcelona.
Hot on their heels, just one behind the leaders, are Emma Nilsson: the order of merit leader from Sweden, Spain’s Noemi Jimenez and England’s Cloe Frankish, who is chasing one of the five cards available for the Ladies European Tour next season.
Nilsson and Jimenez are ranked first and second on the order of merit after wins at the Belfius Ladies Open and VP Bank Ladies Open respectively earlier this season, but Meysonnier, Bjorgvinsdottir and Frankish are all looking to become first-time winners.
The 21-year-old Meysonnier, from Arles, is now in her second season on the LET Access Series and ranked 106th on the order of merit after eight starts in 2018. Her best result, of tied 36th, came in the Bossey Ladies Championship, where she earned a career-best finish of tied 19th last season and she received an invitation to compete in El Prat courtesy of Pitch & Play.
After mixing four birdies with three bogeys on Friday, she said: “My long game has been very good over the past two days and I haven’t made a lot of putts. This course suits me because it’s quite wide and I can hit my driver, which gives me a chance to have some shorter approach shots and chance at birdie. I only missed one or two shots, so I’ve hit a lot of greens and my putter should warm up tomorrow.”
The 24-year-old Bjorgvinsdottir, from Iceland, has made five cuts from 11 starts in her maiden season on the LET Access Series, with a best finish of tied 19th in the Lavaux Ladies Championship. Saving her best until last, she enjoyed the challenge of playing in the tough conditions, particularly after heavy overnight rainfall.
Bjorgvinsdottir said: “The course was playing longer today. I played really solid, hit a lot of greens and made some good putts. This is my first time in this position and my first year as a professional, so I’m really excited to be here. I’m going to keep my mindset the same. The course will be the same, so I will have a good dinner and come tomorrow with the same state of mind.”
The more experienced Nilsson, who has three wins on the LET Access Series, was pleased with her second round of 72, which included back-to-back birdies on the seventh and eighth holes, followed by a pair of birdies on the ninth and 18th.
She said: “I think my strengths today were that I hit a lot of fairways and greens, so I was quite steady. The driver was off a couple of times, but the greens were really good, 10.5 on the stimpmeter. Of course I’d love to win the order of merit and I will try my best, but you never know, it depends how the other players do. I’m trying to win the tournament and then I’ll be good.”
The second ranked Jimenez also has a slim chance to win the order of merit and a solid round of 70 kept her hopes up. The 25-year-old from Marbella said: “That gives me motivation, you know, to go as far as possible. I want to stay in the present and enjoy the last round of the final LETAS event of the season.”
She started on the 10th hole and made three birdies and one bogey on her first nine, “I started with two birdies, so that gave me a good start and a lot of confidence. I had a better long game today and I holed some good putts and key putts, especially in the middle of the round. I saved some good pars, because it was not easy with these greens and the wind started blowing in the second round. On the last hole I missed a putt from two metres for birdie, but it’s fine in general and I can’t wait for tomorrow. It’s a really good golf course, a little wet from the rain, but the greens are great and you have to be extremely focused. It’s a great course for golfers to demonstrate their abilities and the best golfer will win this tournament, for sure.”
With only one round remaining in the final event of the season, the battle for the five LET tour cards has reached fever pitch. Frankish, who is a rookie on the LET in 2018, is well placed to improve her category of membership for 2019, should she continue her rich run of form.
After a steady 73, she said: “I feel good. I left a lot out there but it is a very tricky course and the greens are very fast. If you’re on the wrong side, you can say bye-bye to your ball. On 16, I was 10 feet away and ended up hitting it 10 feet past, out of nowhere. You’ve got to hit the ball in the right places on the greens. I know I’m in a good position and there’s lots to play for, but I’d like to just focus on the event and hopefully get my card secure.”
The six further players on level par and only two strokes from the lead are Czech amateur Patricie Mackova, My Leander from Sweden, Tiia Koivisto and Linda Henriksson from Finland, Sarah Schober from Austria and the first-round leader Caroline Rominger, from Switzerland.
Meanwhile, the recent European Team Championships gold medallist Linda Wessberg, from Sweden, is part of a group on one-over-par.