Thursday, December 15, 2011


Ladies European Tour Media Manager
DUBAI: Lexi Thompson of the United States fired a flawless second round of six under par 66 today to take a two-stroke lead at the halfway stage of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.
The exciting 16-year-old, pictured left, from Coral Springs, Florida, fired six birdies on the Majlis Golf Course at Emirates Golf Club to finish 36 holes at 136, eight under par, ahead of Italian Margherita Rigon and Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson.
The 5’ 11” teenager, who is still home schooled, carries the ball 250 yards with her driver and her average drive this week has been 275 yards. After an opening round of 70, she improved by four strokes on Thursday and credited an adjustment to her putting set-up.
“I just made a few more putts today. I hit it a little bit closer,” she said. “I practised after yesterday’s round and it worked today. And I hit a few shots from tap-in range, so that helped out a lot, too.”
Playing the course for the second year, having tied for 22nd at the 2010 event, she acknowledged that the course is ideally suited to her game.
“I get to hit a lot of drivers. You just have to place it out in the fairway here and go for your second shot,” her father revealing that she acquired her immense distance of shot whilst trying to keep up with her older brothers, both of whom are successful golfers.
Her approach play was equally impressive as she carded birdies at the 12th, 14th and 18th holes before picking up further shots at the second and third holes before tapping in for birdie at the par-four sixth.
After being hyped as the next big thing in golf, Thompson won the Navistar Classic in September, becoming the youngest winner in LPGA history and lowering that record by two years.
Should she win the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters on Saturday, she would be the second youngest winner in Ladies European Tour history, behind South Korean Amy Yang, who won the 2006 ANZ Ladies Masters as a 16-year-old amateur.
Thompson said: “This is such a great tournament and I mean it would be an honour to win this, so I’m just going to take it easy and play one shot at a time.”
Gustafson fired a bogey-free five under par 67 containing five birdies at the third, sixth, ninth, 12th and 16th holes and credited her solid ball striking. After playing in the Pro Am on Tuesday, she took a lesson from the Swedish Golf Federation coaches Patrik Johnsson and Katarina Vagndahl earlier in the week and said:
“I was striking the ball really well. “My ball striking has been pretty similar, at least today's, but I didn't hole any yesterday, and I holed a couple today, but I left putts out there.
“It is pretty good, because I was actually hitting the ball awful on Tuesday during the Pro Am.” Rigon said that solid putting was the key to her round of 68.
“I played very, very good. I struggled a bit with my driver today, didn’t hit many fairways, but thanks to my putts, it was quite easy to manage a good score.”
Rigon is in Dubai fighting to keep her Ladies European Tour card and needs to finish in the top 80 positions on the Exemption Ranking to earn category 5 membership of the LET and avoid a return to Final Qualifying School in January. She is currently ranked 83rd on that list and needs a top 50 finish on Saturday to secure her place next season.
Paraguayan Julieta Granada (71) and Becky Morgan of Wales (69) have no such worries and ended joint fourth on five under par, followed a stroke further back by Swedes Lotta Wahlin (74), Pernilla Lindberg (68) and Louise Larsson (69) in a share of sixth place with Michelle Wie (67).
Wie missed a couple of birdie opportunities and said: “A little frustrated after the last two holes, but I kept steady out there today. I made a couple more putts, and I have two more days to try and shoot some more low scores.”
She and Thompson, two of the brightest young talents in American women’s golf, have never played together, setting up a tantalising prospect for Saturday’s final round, which could see the two long-hitters pitted against one another.
Meanwhile, 67 players will contest Friday’s third round after making the 36-hole cut at three over par or better. The third round will commence at 7.40am local time with the leading trio of Thompson, Gustafson and Rigon teeing off at 11.30am.
Not to be completely outshone on her 17th birthday, the LET’s youngest member, Klara Spilkova from the Czech Republic, made the cut on three over par and will be hoping for a strong finish to her rookie season on the Tour, where she is 78th on the 2011 Henderson Money List that will be finalised on Saturday.
Par 144 (2x72)
136 Alexis Thompson (US) 70 66
138 Sophie Gustafson (SWE) 71 67, Margherita Rigon (ITA) 70 68
139 Julieta Granada (PAR) 68 71, Becky Morgan (WAL) 70 69
140 Michelle Wie (US) 73 67, Pernilla Lindberg (SWE) 72 68, Lotta Wahlin (SWE) 66 74, Louise Larsson (SWE) 71 69
141 Elisabeth Esterl (GER) 70 71, Linda Wessberg (SWE) 68 73, Stacy Lee Bregman (SA) 68 73, Beth Allen (USA) 69 72, Minea Blomqvist (FIN) 68 73 , Lee-Anne Pace (SA) 69 72, Christel Boeljon (NL) 69 72
142 Sara Brown (US) 71 71, Diana Luna (ITA) 69 73, Kylie Walker (SCO) 72 70, Florentyna Parker (ENG) 72 70, Liebelei Elena Lawrence (LU) 70 72 , Louise Stahle (SWE) 72 70, Becky Brewerton (WAL) 67 75, Georgina Simpson (ENG) 72 70
143 Maria Verchenova (RUS) 69 74, Melissa Reid (ENG) 72 71, Dewi Claire Schreefel (NL) 74 69, Jaclyn Sweeney (USA) 69 74, Lynnette Brooky (NZ) 71 72, Hannah Jun (US) 73 70, Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 71 72, Kaisa Ruuttila (FIN) 71 72, Karen Lunn (AUS) 70 73, Nontaya Srisawang (THA) 74 69
144 Clare Queen (SCO) 74 70, Caroline Hedwall (SWE) 75 69 , Caroline Afonso (FRA) 70 74, Lorie Kane (CAN) 74 70, Veronica Zorzi (ITA) 74 70 , Sophie Giquel-Bettan (FRA) 70 74, Giulia Sergas (ITA) 75 69 , Alison Walshe (USA) 70 74, Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) 72 72
145 Julie Maisongrosse (FRA) 69 76, Ursula Wikstrom (FIN) 72 73, Sophie Sandolo (ITA) 72 73
146 Cassandra Kirkland (FRA) 70 76, Jade Schaeffer (FRA) 74 72, Marianne Skarpnord (NOR) 76 70, Carin Koch (SWE) 73 73, Carmen Alonso (ESP) 73 73 , Caroline Westrup (SWE) 70 76, Lydia Hall (WAL) 72 74, Malene Jorgensen (DEN) 72 74 , Rebecca Codd (IRE) 73 73
147 Tandi Cuningham (SAf) 69 78, Kim Welch (US) 73 74, Christina Kim (US) 73 74 , Anna Nordqvist (SWE) 75 72, Tania Elosegui (ESP) 73 74, Rachel Jennings (ENG) 71 76, Lynn Kenny (SCO) 73 74, Klara Spilkova (CZE) 72 75 , Stacey Keating (AUS) 70 77, Nikki Garrett (AUS) 72 75, Rebecca Flood (AUS) 74 73 , Jenni Kuosa (FIN) 72 75
148 Sophie Walker (ENG) 75 73, Frances Bondad (AUS) 74 74, Ashleigh Simon (SAf) 75 73, Titiya Plucksataporn (THA) 74 74, Henrietta Zuel (ENG) 73 75 , Ana Larraneta (ESP) 74 74, Sandra Gal (GER) 78 70, Trish Johnson (ENG) 73 75, Maria Hernandez (ESP) 73 75, Gwladys Nocera (FRA) 73 75 , Kristie Smith (AUS) 76 72 , Melodie Bourdy (FRA) 72 76
149 Line Vedel (DEN) 74 75, Lucie Andre (FRA) 75 74, Morgana Robbertze (SA) 76 73, Charlie Douglass (ENG) 70 79, Mikaela Parmlid (SWE) 73 76
150 Lisa Holm Sorensen (DEN) 79 71, Joanna Klatten (FRA) 77 73, Zuzana Kamasova (SVK) 72 78, Elizabeth Bennett (ENG) 69 81, Holly Aitchison (ENG) 73 77
151 Rachel Bell (ENG) 77 74, Stefania Croce (ITA) 74 77, Adriana Zwanck (ESP) 73 78
152 Jeehae Lee (SKOR) 74 78, Anja Monke (GER) 75 77
153 Emma Cabrera-Bello (ESP) 80 73, Virginie Lagoutte-Clement (FRA) 77 76
154 Laurette Maritz (SAf) 78 76, Felicity Johnson (ENG) 77 77, Vikki Laing (SCO) 72 82, Maha Haddioui (MOR) 80 74, Lindsay Brown (Am) (ENG) 77 77, Caroline Rominger (SWI) 77 77, Rebecca Hudson (ENG) 76 78
155 Martina Eberl-Ellis (GER) 77 78, Nicole Gergely (AUT) 75 80
156 Laura Davies (ENG) 75 81
159 Danielle Montgomery (ENG) 79 80, Sana Tufail (ENG) (am) 73 86