Austin Ernst was understandably delighted after a second-round 70 left her at even par in the AIG Women’s Open and strongly placed to contend at Royal Troon.
Ernst was in the second group out on Friday morning, teeing off at 6:41am BST, and defied bursts of heavy rain and more troublesome gusts of wind to complete an excellent one-under round.
With more poor weather forecast for the afternoon starters in round two, Ernst appears likely to be in one of the final groups on Saturday, and maybe even the very last game.
Asked if she would have taken an aggregate of 142 for the first two rounds when she saw the weather forecast earlier in the week, the American replied: “Absolutely. I would have been sat in the hotel and been very happy.
“I've been playing well. I've hit the ball well, but even putting, I putted it really well today. I had two three-putts. My speed was a little off coming in on 14 and 16 but, other than that, I made a lot of good par saves. It's not easy putting in the wind, so the whole day is really just a battle.”
Ernst – the runner-up at the 2018 Evian Championship - credited her success over the opening two days to an ability to remain positive in immensely challenging conditions.
“You have to have a great attitude,” she added. “You kind of know typically with links golf, you might get a few bad bounces and you really need to be okay with the ball moving a lot in the air and really just visualising your shots.
“Especially today, you get a lot of crosswinds, so you really need to be able to commit to the shot shape and be okay if the ball doesn't quite go where you were looking.”
Ernst felt conditions were slightly easier on Friday morning compared to Thursday afternoon, with the winds having at least eased somewhat.
“Yesterday it was windier,” she explained. “We played the first few holes today with not quite as much wind, but then the rain picked up and it rained really hard, and then the wind came with the rain and it was brutal. It was really tough playing that stretch probably from about six to 12.”