A ‘red hot’ putter on the back nine and some more favourable conditions helped 2017 champion Bel Wardle storm into a one-shot lead on day two of the English Women’s Open Stroke Play Championship.
The in-form Prestbury golfer reached the final of the English Women’s Amateur Championship earlier this month and her hot streak shows no sign of abating as she now sits one shot clear of Amelia Williamson and day one leader Lorna McClymont heading into the final day.
Wardle had struggled in the strong winds on day one but a small adjustment with her putter helped her record a stunning seven under par round of 67, including eight birdies, six of which came on the last seven holes.
Her outstanding play also rubbed off on playing partner Amelia Williamson as the Hunstanton golfer went two under par for the day, including birdies on the 15th and 17th, to ensure she would sit just one shot behind Wardle heading into the final day at Wallasey Golf Club.
The duo met last month in the semi-final of the English Women’s Amateur Championship, a match narrowly won by Wardle, and they look set for another thrilling battle when they players return for the final 36 holes on Thursday.
Also handily placed to make a tilt for the title is Scotland international McClymont as, despite seeing her challenge falter slightly with four bogeys on the back nine, she responded with a birdie on 17 to go to two under par for the tournament and give herself a strong chance of claiming victory.
The day belonged to Wardle though and the Cheshire player was delighted by her performance and insists she has the game to go all the way and repeat the feat she achieved at Woodhall Spa four years ago.
“I definitely feel I can go all the way again,” she said. “I’ve put myself in a much better position than I was in yesterday. My performance yesterday didn’t put me out of it but I knew I needed a much better round today to be in with a chance of winning.
“I didn’t actually feel like I played as well as I did yesterday, particularly on the front nine, and I couldn’t judge the wind but I managed to make a good score anyway. The putter lit up on the back nine so that definitely helped!
“I started off by just trying to whack it because I thought the wind was going to affect my shots more than it did so then I just tried to be calm over the putts.
“It was slightly less windy out there today but when you get up onto the higher tees it was really blowing and it was taking the ball either miles left or miles right.”
Click here to view the full leaderboard at the end of day two.
Photography credit: Leaderboard