Gurgaon: Rookie Caroline Hedwall of Sweden unleashed a hat-trick of birdies on her closing holes to leap-frog into sole lead on the penultimate day of the Hero Women’s Indian Open 2011 here at the DLF Golf and Country Club.
Hedwall who has three wins this year and is already assured of the Rookie of the Year award, was two behind two-time champion Phatlum Pornanong (67-69) of Thailand and fellow Swede Linda Wessberg (70-66), both at 136. She birdied the last three for a card of 68 and moved one clear to 135.
The cut fell at five-over 149 with 60 professionals and two amateurs making it to the money round. Amateur Gauri Monga (74-72) was the best among Indians at tied 37th, while four others Smriti Mehra (72-77), Sharmila Nicollet (75-74), Neha Tripathi (72-77) and amateur Vani Kapoor (74-75) all squeezed in at 149, right on the bubble.
Smriti Mehra who brought in a card of 77 today nearly missed the bus with a triple bogey finish to her round. “I hit the ball really solid today as a result of which, my approach shot on the ninth flew over the green and went out of bounds,” she said. “My putting, especially the left to right putts have caused me concern all week. I plan to rectify this aspect and record a creditable finish tomorrow,” added Smriti.
National amateur champion Gauri Monga played very steady golf with 11 straight pars after starting from the tenth. She then had birdies on third and sixth and bogeys on fifth and seventh. “I played quite steady with a series of pars. My two bogeys were disappointing. I went to the right on fifth and missed and up and down and on seventh I went into the trees,” said Monga, who is now going to take some time off from golf to focus on her school examinations.
Amateur Vani Kapoor sank a clutch birdie on her final hole, the ninth, to make the cut.
It’s not without reason that Caroline Hedwall is hailed as the next big star in golf. The 22-year-old who has her mother, Yvonne on the bag, looked all set to grab her fourth win. After a first round 67, she had one birdie on the front nine. After the turn she birdied the 11th and at seven-under for the tournament at that stage, gave herself every chance to assume the lead. Then came the bogey on the 14th, when she found the cart-path of her tee shot and the ball bounced out of bounds.
Then after a par on 15th, she had three birdies. “I putted really well and that kind of saved my game today,” said Hedwall. “I had a strong finish. I hit it to just a foot on number 16 for birdie and holed a 12 feet putt on 17 and two-putted for birdie on 18 so I made a couple coming in, which was really nice,” said Hedwall.
On her lone bogey Hedwall said, “I hit it out of bounds on the par five and hit an awful shot that came from nowhere. It’s not even a hard tee shot but I hit it out of bounds but made birdie on my second ball so I only made a bogey, which felt nice and felt like I could still get up there.”
Two-time Hero Women’s Indian Open winner Pornanong Phatlum, started with a bogey on the par-4 tenth. The 21-year-old made up with birdies on the 12th and 17th. Making the turn at six under, she managed two more birdies on the third and seventh to pull alongside Wessberg. “My hitting was not too good today. I putted and chipped well though,” said the four-time winner on the LET. “It was very cold in the morning. I hit only seven fairways and missed four greens. Tomorrow, it depends on my chances. I really like this course and I feel very good so I will do my best.”
Linda Wessberg, a tenth tee starter, made a birdie start to her round followed by two more birdies on the 15th and 18th. On her return journey she found birdies on the second and third to go seven-under. A dropped shot on the fifth set her back, but the 31-year-old went on to birdie the sixth and the closing hole of her round to finish the day at 66, two strokes shy of her career best round of 64.
“I didn’t really play any differently than yesterday; I just made more putts today. I hit a few more fairways so I guess it was easier to attack the pins,” said Wessberg.