Esther Henseleit and Charlotte Thompson handled the gusts whipping across La Reserva Club de Sotogrande to share the lead after the second day of the LET’s newest tournament in Spain.
The duo carded rounds of 72 and 73 respectively in tough conditions to sit on five-under-par in the La Reserva de Sotogrande Invitational, hosted by Annika.
Henseleit, the leading rookie on the LET this season after five top 10 finishes, made birdies on the par-5 sixth and 16th holes and had just two bogeys on her card.
She said: “I think level par was really good, because the wind was crazy and you needed to hit three clubs more than yesterday, so it was tough and I’m happy to be done and happy with my score.
“I really like the challenge, but I think it’s really hard to putt in the wind. If the wind is so strong, then you need to think of it when you’re putting and that’s the most difficult thing. My putter wasn’t that hot, so I hope I can do better on the greens tomorrow.”
Overnight leader Thompson, who shot an opening 66 which included holing a surprise wedge shot for eagle at the par-5 second yesterday, double bogeyed the same hole early on to slip back to four-under-par but fought back with a birdie on the long sixth hole. Although she dropped shots on the seventh and ninth, she recovered her position at the top of the leader board with birdies on holes 13 and 15.
She said afterwards: “You’re going to drop shots around here, especially in this wind. I’m really pleased with the way I dealt with it.
“I’d definitely take that. I didn’t start off well with a double at the second but a huge turning point for me was parring 10, 11 and 12. They are difficult holes today because the wind was from a different direction.”
The duo are one ahead of French pair Celine Herbin and Camille Chevalier, who both shot 70s on a day when only six players carded sub par rounds.
Former French Open champion Herbin said: “It was a slow start with a double bogey but the conditions were very tough and you needed a lot of patience. I was plus two after nine holes and had a three-putt on my 10th, so I was plus three and then after that, I don’t know what happened, but the birdies arrived. I had five birdies in the last eight holes to finish on minus two. It was obviously good to finish under par in those conditions. Just one bad swing on the first hole and then after that I played great.
“I spent at least two or three winters practising at a course just next to here, so I’m definitely used to the wind. I’ve also practised often in the north of Spain, which is also very windy, so my game suits the wind quite well.”
Germany’s Olivia Cowan (73) lies in fifth place, with the local crowd favourite Maria Parra (74), fellow Spaniard Carmen Alonso (70) and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall (70) tied for sixth on two-under-par.
Hedwall is trying to qualify for a fourth Solheim Cup appearance and played with Team Europe captain Catriona Matthew. The fiery Swede, a member of two winning teams in 2011 and 2013, said: “I tried to just focus on this tournament, because my ideal goal is to play myself on the team anyway and not rely on a pick. I try to focus on playing well and getting points, so I can get up the rankings.
“I had a couple of good breaks in the beginning and it was unfortunate to finish with a double but I’m in contention for the weekend and that was my plan for the first two days, so I’m happy.
“It’s a tough course, especially with this wind, so it’s been a good challenge, but two under today is a good score. It was hard to make birdies and I managed to make four birdies and an eagle.”