Finland’s Niina Liias emerged from the pack to take a one-shot lead at the Road to LaLargue Final. The 22-year-old recorded a superb four-under round of 68 on the second day’s play at the French course to end on –5 for the tournament, one shot clear of Wales’ Chloe Williams in second position. Williams lies second after a three-under 69 in round two at La Largue. Currently lying eighth on the Order of Merit, a third strong round for Williams could prove vital in securing a Ladies European Tour card or a place in the final stage of the LET’s qualifying school ahead of the 2020 season.
Liias’ began the day in a cluster of six players tied for the lead on –1 after the opening day in Mooslargue but played some fine golf in tricky conditions to claim the outright lead heading into the final day at the LET Access Series closing event. The Finn carded six birdies in the round, three on the opening nine holes and a further three on the back nine. The Kalajoki player was consistently hitting long from the tee and was able to make hay on the leaderboard by scoring a birdie on all four of the par five holes.
With some difficult winds once again on day two at the French event, Liias’ tournament-low round of 68 was all the more impressive after overcoming a tough early spell that saw the Finn hit two bogeys in quick succession on the long par fours at holes three and five. Liias responded to the setback in perfect fashion with birdies on six and seven after twice impressively rolling in long putts on the undulating La Largue greens.
“I just tried to remain calm and focus on my own shots. Despite the weather, it was good today. Everything was solid, I didn’t miss that many shots. Some here and there but good drives, good enough approaches and good putts.”
On the back nine, Liias had found her touch around the greens to save par successfully and maintain a bogey-free card down the stretch. Liias again found the middle of the cup with a birdie putt on the last to move into the outright lead with Sunday’s final eighteen holes of the season to come.
Liias’ best finish on the 2019 LET Access Series came at the Lavaux Ladies Championship as the young Finn came in a tie for fourth at the Swiss event. Another fine round on Sunday’s closing day’s play will likely see Liias improve on her best finish and mark an impressive season – a year in which the Finnish player has competed in over ten events on the Tour for the first time.
“It’s nice and new (to be leading). But I’m just going to try and figure it out!”
Order of Merit leader Hayley Davis fell back into T36 after a six-over round of 78. The 26-year-old has an unassailable lead at the top of the rankings but will want to finish the season strongly in the final round in Mooslargue.
This week’s event will decide the top 5 players who will progress onto the Ladies European Tour next year and also the fifteen players who will earn a spot at the final stage of the LET’s Tour School. This leaves much still to play for throughout the field and an intriguing day’s play ahead at the LET Access Series finale.