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Ex-footballer shoots ‘best’ round of 66 in history to share Aramco Saudi Ladies International lead

RIYADH: England’s Georgia Hall retained a share of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund midterm lead after a second straight 69 on the Red Sea coast.

The former British Open champion took advantage of her early morning tee time to score a trio of birdies en route to a three-under-par second day, won by much calmer weather than the day before.

Fierce 40mph winds had wreaked havoc on afternoon scores at Royal Greens Golf and Country Club on Thursday, creating conditions described by Hall as “the toughest” she has ever played in.

A perfectly controlled Friday run – erased only by a single bogey – ensured the 25-year-old’s six-under-par tally would be the score to beat heading into the weekend, as the infamous Jeddah course swagger came back to defy the start of the day. times.

“Bowling was actually a little tougher than yesterday,” Hall, the world No. 25, said. “Yesterday there was excessive wind. Obviously it was next to nothing this morning, but it has increased a bit now.

When asked how it felt to hold on to the lead despite having to endure what is sure to be the worst conditions of the week on Thursday, she said: “It gives me a lot of confidence. That’s what happens with golf, I think. Sometimes you get a good draw, a bad draw, and that’s what happens. You have to accept it, which I did.

“At the weekend, whoever is close to my score will be close to my start time, so we all have pretty much the same. I don’t mind playing in the wind, so we’ll see what happens.

LET rookie Kristyna Napoleaova of the Czech Republic will share this starting time, who only started golf five years ago after succumbing to an injury that ended a highly decorated football career .

The 25-year-old played for the Czech national team and was also a star player for Sparta Prague, winning the Czech championship six times in a row.

Now, after a tournament low round of 66, Napoleaova shares the lead at the halfway point in what is only her second event as a LET professional, and will play in Saturday’s final group alongside Hall and the longest rider on the tour, Anne van Dam, from the Netherlands.

Napoleaova said: “It was a very good run. Even yesterday I felt like the course was working really well and the greens were clean so I feel like it’s fine with me other than the wind. This morning when we came off the tee it was blowing all over the place so I thought, ‘Gorgeous, let’s enjoy it as much as we can.’

“I was really relaxing the whole time and not thinking about anything. Once or twice I looked at the leaderboard, which was not a good idea. But other than that it was pretty good. »

She added: “With football I was doing pretty well, playing for the national team and everything. Then the injuries came. My parents practically forced me to start playing golf because my mum didn’t want to. not start alone. Somehow I started to do well, so I thought, ‘Why not give it a try?’.

“Now here we are. Not even six years old and I’m glad I made the decision, but don’t tell my mom.

Anne van Dam is two shots from the top pair after hitting her own 69, after a first day of under 71.

“That’s probably one of the best three-unders of my career,” the big hitter said. “Not a shot was easy there. Normally you think the wind is tough, but the tailwind was almost harder to keep the balls close. Overall I am very satisfied. I hit a lot of good shots and actually created some good chances and had some good putts.

21-year-old Australian star Steph Kyriacou, like Napoleaova, also scored a tournament-best six under par 66, putting himself firmly in the mix for the weekend.

“I hit some good shots yesterday, but they would end up about 30 yards from the flag,” the two-time LET winner replied when asked about her first-round experience.

“I hit some good shots today. As there was not much wind, I could touch them closely and give myself chances.

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