Denmark’s Nicole Broch Estrup improved by six strokes in Thursday’s second round of the Joburg Ladies Open at Modderfontein Golf Club as she fired a flawless seven-under-par 66 to take a two-stroke lead in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.
Estrup reached the halfway mark at eight under, and sits two shots clear of Sweden’s Linnea Johansson, Klara Davidson Spilkova from the Czech Republic and England’s Lily May Humpreys.
Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom was in fifth, while the leading South African, Nicole Garcia, shared sixth on four under with Felicity Johnson from England, Swede Moa Folke, Kirsten Rudgeley from Australia and Italy’s Alessandra Fanali.
The 36-hole cut to 60 and ties fell at two-over, leaving 64 to contest for a share of the €300,000 purse over the next two rounds.
Estrup said the difference between day one and two was the par-fives, and a hot putter.
“In the first round, I was three-over on the par-fives,” she said. “I am always kind of focusing on the par-fives, but today I really wanted to take advantage of them. The first hole being a par-five, I started with a nice birdie so that kicked it off. The big difference from yesterday to today is the par-fives, I think I’m four under on them and yesterday I was three over.”
In addition to doing better on the longer holes, where she felt she was able to get away with a couple of bad drives here and there, her putting had taken her into the lead.
“The strongest part of my game was probably my putting,” she said. “Knock on wood, I haven’t three-putted yet in these two rounds and I made some clutch five- to seven-footers when I needed for pars and even for birdies on the par-fives when I two-putted.”
Estrup is also working on embracing the challenges golf throws at her, rather than avoiding the inevitability of them and her husband Casper on the bag proved a valuable asset.
“My caddie was good at reminding me that my big goal is that I want to achieve and not avoid,” she said. “So, not being afraid of hitting a bad shot but trying to achieve to hit good shots and I did well today on that part.
“I’m feeling really comfortable, but the last year-and-a-half, the mental game has been my biggest struggle. If I can keep improving slowly on that part, then hopefully I’m going to keep finding myself in this position. I’m feeling good about my game, but when I get scared on the course, that’s when I hit the bad shots.”
Johansson and Spilkova each carded four-under-par 60. Johansson’s total had a double-bogey on it, and Spilkova had two bogeys. Humphreys had a rollercoaster three-under 70 that featured two double-bogeys, an eagle and five birdies.
Garcia reeled in five birdies for her second successive two-under 71, and, at four under at the 36-hole mark, is nicely placed ahead of the weekend.
So too is five-time Investec South African Women’s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace. She had a four-under 69 to move into 11th at three under, just five strokes back, and she can strike from there.
But, for Estrup, it’s about wanting to hit good shots without being afraid of hitting bad ones.
“I’m probably going to be nervous over the weekend, but I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “The opening tournament in Morocco was an eye-opener where I was back to reality with a good first round and then a bad second round. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to being in the mix.”