Cornwall’s Emily Toy broke clear of a logjam at the top in the English women’s amateur championship when she took the half way lead on six-under par.
She returned her second 69 at The Wilmslow in Cheshire, to edge one stroke ahead of a group of four other players.
Toy (Carlyon Bay) leads the 46 qualifiers who will return for tomorrow’s final 36 holes – and what should be a highly competitive finale to the event.
In pursuit are Hollie Muse, who reached the semi-finals of the British women’s amateur; St Rule Trophy winner Lianna Bailey; Curtis Cup player Annabell Fuller and recent US college graduate Georgina Blackman.
It doesn’t end there. The leaderboard is packed with top quality players, such as the group of three on four under: Curtis Cup player Sophie Lamb and the Yorkshire pair of Nicola Slater, the English women’s match play champion, and Charlotte Heath, the girls’ winner at the Sir Henry Cooper Junior Masters.
Toy is no stranger to being in the mix. She’s a past English girls’ champion and, as an Exeter University student, has an impressive university golf record, including a win in last year’s R&A’s Foundation Scholars’ Tournament.
Today was all about keeping the momentum going, typified by her response to two dropped shots early on. The 20-year-old came straight back with a pair of birdies, remarking: “I changed that around quickly.” After that she played steadily on, getting up and down when necessary, and after signing for her 69, commented: “I’m pretty happy with that.”
Her challengers are all pushing hard. Hollie Muse (West Lancashire) got to six-under before dropping a shot on the last, when her ball spun off the green into an awkward lie. But she declared of today’s one-under 71: “I’m happy with it, I played steady again, solid. I’m right in it and, as my coach says, if you play well enough you have a chance of holding the trophy.”
Lianna Bailey, pictured right, (Kirby Muxloe) thought she might have bettered her 70 after she made the turn in two-under, having started from the 10th. Instead she had to be satisfied with nine straight pars. “I think the back nine is slightly harder and when I got through it I thought I could maybe push on. It was a little bit disappointing, but there’s two rounds to go and lots of birdie opportunities,” she said.
She did have the distinction of claiming her second eagle on the long 13th, holing a 3ft putt on this occasion.
Annabell Fuller (Roehampton) kept herself well in contention with a card which included only one blemish, a bogey on the 17th, alongside three birdies. “I played good, but my score didn’t feel good,” she said. “I felt the way I played I should have been lower. But you can’t win it today, I’ve got two more rounds to get myself up there.”
The 16-year-old has already had a memorable season, having been the top scorer for Europe against Asia in the Patsy Hankins Trophy and becoming England’s youngest Curtis Cup player.
Georgina Blackman, pictured below, (Chelmsford) graduated from her American university in May and is now playing a year of amateur golf to see where it takes her. So far, this week she’s enjoyed the journey. “I’m very pleased, I hadn’t been playing my best and I wanted to come here with no expectation, play for fun and just see how it goes.”
Today her round was notable for the back nine of four under 32, which helped her to a score of 70.
Images copyright Leaderboard Photography