Russia’s Nina Pegova shot a level-par 72 to maintain her lead at the Viaplay Ladies Finnish Open. With tricky pin positions a major factor on day two, low scores were at a premium, and Pegova will be especially pleased to have held onto her lead following a near-disastrous front nine.
The 25-year-old opened up her round with five bogeys in the first seven holes and reached the turn at +4. The back nine was a different story however, as the Moscow-native found her touch on the greens to recover her round back to even-par, aided by an eagle at the par-five 17th.
“I think that the speed of the greens had changed a little, so I made several bogeys because of three-putts on the front nine. Then, I learned the pace and started to make birdies. They were mostly easy tap ins. And on the 17th hole I chipped in from the fringe for an eagle.”
Whilst all appeared lost at the halfway mark, the steely Russian showed the talent and determination that has seen her to make several top-10 finishes on the LET Access Series in recent years, including 2017’s VP Bank Open where the then 23-year-old was pipped to the post in a play-off.
Despite some tough moments on the front nine especially, Pegova will take great confidence from the mental resolve she exhibited down the stretch, and will start the final day’s play day buoyed by the late eagle that secured her the outright lead at the Messila Golf Club.
Overnight co-leader Gudrun Bjorgvinsdottir also remains in the hunt, lying -3 for the tournament, two shots off Pegova’s lead. Despite a perfect start to the round with a birdie on the first, the Icelander also had a tricky opening nine holes with three bogeys in quick succession before reaching the halfway point +2.
Bjorgvinsdottir played better golf on the back nine, and remained two-over, carding a battling 74. With scoring proving difficult on day two in Lahti, ending the day on three-under leaves the Icelandic player firmly in the running going into the third and final day.
In a share for second with Bjorgvinsdottir is Sweden’s Michaela Finn. The Kent State university graduate had an up-and-down round, with three birdies mirrored by three bogeys. Tee to green, the Swede played some terrific golf but was left frustrated by a few missed opportunities on the troublesome greens.
“I hit the ball solid at the moment and can hit my drives and approaches aggressively. But on the greens I was struggling. I had seven missed birdie opportunities from close range.”
As recent LET Access Series events have shown, there looks to be all to play for in the final round. A thought echoed by Swede:
“There are still 18 holes to play tomorrow. It’s so tight that anything can happen.”
Saturday’s forecast suggests favourable weather conditions for the players on day three at the Finnish event. Ten players begin the day under par and within four shots of the lead. But, with the Russian ending the day playing some spectacular golf, it is likely to require a special final round to overhaul Pegova who will be desperate to capitalise on her opening 36 holes and secure a first victory on the LET Access Series.