Two days ago Holly Clyburn reminded everyone on Instagram that this was her birthday month.
The 27-year-old Briton’s birthday was on February 7, but her personal feed maintains that the celebrations should continue for the time-being. If she lifts the trophy in this inaugural Ladies European Tour event at Bonville, one suspects the birthday month might continue into March.
Like all birthdays, however, there were moments of disappointment. Starting the day as clubhouse leader at -5, Clyburn continued her impressive form with an inward 32, featuring birdies at 5, 7 and 9, followed by another birdie at 10.
But just as quickly she gave them back. Bogies at 11, 12 and the par-five 15th brought some sobriety to what beckoned to be another course record on day two. Still, she recovered and birdied 17 & 18 to maintain the clubhouse lead at -8, two shots clear, and buoyant for the weekend to come.
“Today’s round was a game of two halves,” she said.
“I played fantastic on the front nine, and it could’ve been a lot better.
“Then I had an awkward yardage on 11 that made the round go upside down a bit. I took a three-putt there. But other than that I ground it out I played some really nice golf coming in.”
The birthday girl will have a fight on her hands this weekend. The main contender at this stage is French youngster Celine Boutier who carded the day’s best round of four-under to be at -6 and poised to make a dent deep into the weekend.
The 24-year-old has struggled since arriving in Australia, but knows to win. It was only three months ago she won the Sanya Open in China, and with full playing rights guaranteed this year, she is playing with the freedom of youth.
“I felt like I hit it well all day and had a lot of birdie opportunities,” said Boutier, who had an eagle and six birdies in her round.
“It (Bonville) can be very tricky if you miss it on the wrong side, you have to be very smart with your approach shots. You can get in trouble very fast.”
Germany’s Olivia Cowan also recorded the day’s equal best round of four-under, but lamented missed opportunities.
“I’m really hitting it well at the moment,” the tall 21-year-old said. “I’m going to try not to think about it (winning) and see if I can keep improving into the weekend.
“I’m going to try not to think about it (winning) and see if I can keep improving into the weekend.”
Finnish compatriots Ursula Wikstrom and Noora Komulainen backed up their identical opening 74s to both shoot three-under 69s to be well in contention as the event heads into the weekend.
Veteran Wikstrom finally got it going at this magnificent course in the Coffs Harbour hinterland, after an opening round in which “whenever there was a chance to get a bogey, I did it,” the 37-year-old said.
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“It seems to be easy going today. I only made the one stupid mistake today (at 15), but other than that it was pretty steady.
“Yesterday (Thursday) was one of those days where I didn’t feel like anything would happen. But these tournaments in Australia are the first of the year and hopefully I will do enough to be in contention on Sunday.”
Iceland’s Valdis Jonsdottir backed up her opening round with another solid effort with just a single bogey among three birdies. She is currently in a share for fourth.
“I was happy to stay out of trouble and play another solid round,” she said.
Of the Australians, Hannah Green stormed up the leaderboard with a round that included six birdies and four bogeys, as she struggled to find the lines with her putter and a common cold she caught overnight.
“I don’t feel like I played my best golf,” said the 22-year-old.
“I felt like I left a lot out there. I had four three-putts, and a lot more opportunities that I could’ve taken advantage of.”
Two-time LET winner Rebecca Artis, originally from Coonabarabran in central NSW, is also in contention after shooting -3 to finish the day tied for 7th. This year, the 29-year-old will be the oldest rookie on the LPGA tour.
Victorian Stephanie Bunque the highest placed Aussie amateur in this field carded a sublime -3 for the day to be sitting at +2 and 33rd.