A resurgent Alison Lee of the United States battled through the challenging blustery conditions on Day 2 of the Aramco Team Series to shoot a second successive 65 and build a seven-shot lead on another sun-stroked day at La Reserva Club Sotogrande, Spain.
Tied overnight on seven-under after an opening round 65, the former US Solheim Cup star and world number one ranked amateur repeated the act to leave the field far behind thanks to a near flawless round, recording eight birdies and only one dropped shot – her first over the opening 36 holes.
A 69 from Karolin Lampert during the morning’s play was good enough to advance the German up the leaderboard and grasp second place on her own on seven-under, one shot ahead of a trio of players all on six-under: Australia’s Stephanie Kyriacou (71), Finland’s Tiia Koivisto (69), and South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai (69).
In the tournament’s team standings, the top three places are held by Team Strom (-27), Team Buhai (-26), and Team Lampert (-24), setting the stage for an exciting closing day’s play on Saturday.
For most players it was a day to survive due to the high winds and fast drying greens. But Lee – bolstered by a top-20 finish on the LET in Northern Ireland last week – continued to attack the course in her debut performance in Spain to go into tomorrow’s final round in a commanding position.
She said: “I would give myself an A for today – I’m really happy. This course does set-up pretty short for me, I am a longer hitter, I had a lot of short irons in today. I just had to stay patient out there and hit one shot at a time.
“It was obviously a lot more windy today and playing a little bit differently from yesterday. You have to stay focused when its windy like this and that almost made me concentrate a little bit more and just try and execute the shot, as opposed to worry where it was going. I was just trying to hit a good shot and hoping that it ends up in the right place. We were able to judge the wind quite well today, my caddie and I, and got some distances correct and made birdies and saved pars out there when I could.”
Asked if today’s scintillating round was a reflection of where she feels her game currently is, Lee said: “I feel like I really found something at the beginning of this year and like I’ve just been learning and growing from that. It feels really good to shoot a low round on a day like today when it’s been as windy as this with a lot of great players out there, so I’m really happy.”
Finishing day two holding a single-shot lead in the team tournament, captain Linnea Strom said of her fourballs’ afternoon performance: “As a team we compensate for each other very well. We all made some birdies and whenever someone made a mistake the other members of our team were always doing something good. We have a very good amateur as well, who made his very first eagle today, so that was great! We just helped each other well out there and enjoyed it.”
South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai, whose team led until Team Strom’s late evening finish, added: “We’ve all done really well in all pulling our weight. The wind got up today so it was a little trickier, but we hung in there and have been good. I was happy with the way I played individually as well.
“Our amateur has been great too. He’s a great guy, great personality – today was tough for an amateur but we helped him when we could and on the last hole he came in big time for us with a birdie. Hopefully he can make some more tomorrow.”
Round two also saw a number of highly fancied players rising through the leaderboard, with England’s Bronte Law and Georgia Hall making big moves into the top ten with one round to go. Law is sixth overall courtesy of a three-under 69 and Hall eighth following a four-under 68. Meanwhile fan favourite Paula Creamer also trended the right direction, finishing the day tied 14th with a 2-under (70).
Georgia Hall said: “It was good. I played better than yesterday. The conditions were very hard today as it was really windy – I probably got the worst side of the draw actually, but that’s the way it goes. I should have maybe been six-under but I missed some putts at the end. Overall though I’m happy.”
The Aramco Team Series – Sotogrande climaxes at La Reserva Club tomorrow. Free tickets remain available online at www.aramcoteamseries.com/sotogrande, with the tournament adhering to all COVID-19 protocols, as well as local and government guidelines.
For more information, visit aramcoteamseries.com