Aussie Sarah Kemp has taken control of the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters going into the weekend. Kemp, who plays on both the LPGA and LET and is Rolex ranked 166th, carded opening rounds of 67 and 68. Now at nine strokes under par Kemp leads Celine Herbin and rookie Amy Boulden, her closest competitors, by three strokes as the Masters goes into moving day. Defending champion Karrie Webb, at -1 for the tournament, is trailing Kemp by eight strokes and will need to pull some trick shots out of her bag and put them to good use if she’s to retain her title.
Amy Boulden: A Closer Look at The Rookie
Boulden, a 20-year old from North Wales, almost didn’t make the field. She was on the top of the reserve list after the qualifier and notified just before the first round on Thursday that she’d take the place of a last-minute withdrawal.
Boulden’s very comfortable on the Buckinghamshire course, where she qualified for the US Women’s Open six weeks ago. The stakes here are big for Boulden. If she places among the top-three LET players this weekend she’ll earn the opportunity to attempt to qualify for next week’s RICOH Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale.
Boulden’s cautious but optimistic about her chances to play in the Open:
I’m liking the course; it’s in great condition. I’m in a good position but I three putted the last which was a bit disappointing.
Here Comes Minjee Lee
Aussie amateur Minjee Lee’s been testing the waters this year as she prepares to turn pro. Lee established her golfing creds on the international amateur circuit and started some heavy lifting when she stepped onto the pro golf stage this year.
Seventeen-year old Lee picked up her first pro victory at the ALPG Oates Victorian Open last February. She finished the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open T11th, then went on to finish the Kraft Nabisco Championship at T24th and the US Women’s Open T22nd.
Now Lee’s going into the weekend in a five-way tie for 4th with IK Kim, Gwladys Nocera, Lee-Anne Pace and Amelia Lewis — all talented and seasoned pro competitors. Going into the weekend trailing Kemp’s lead by four shots, everybody in this pack will be working hard to break out of the logjam and take a run at the top of the leaderboard.
Karrie Webb & Charley Hull
The game of golf is punctuated by endless surprises, some pleasurable, others deeply disappointing to players and fans alike. I had expected Karrie Webb and 2013 LET Rookie of the Year, Charley Hull, to be battling for the top of the Ladies European Masters leaderboard going into the weekend. Instead, both at -1 and struggling to climb up out of 22nd place.
Webb carded a second round 70 which left her on one-under-par and eight shots off the lead, while English Solheim Cup star Hull slipped down the leader board after a 74 which included two double bogeys on the third and eighteenth holes. She also dropped a shot at the signature seventeenth.
After two days of hot, windy conditions, players will cope with rain and wind on Saturday and then a lovely British Sunday of sun and a light breeze for the final round at the Ladies European Masters.
You can follow the weekend rounds on the LET live leaderboard as well as here, at ProGolfNow.