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Holmqvist claims halfway lead


Popov and Ernst one back at Royal Troon

Dani Holmqvist lines up a putt at Royal Troon

Sweden’s Dani Holmqvist impressively defied the weather conditions to claim the second-round lead at the AIG Women’s Open at Royal Troon.

On another blustery day on the Ayrshire links, accompanied by heavy rain showers, the 32-year-old battled to a superb one-under-par 70 that included four birdies and three bogeys.

Holmqvist is the only player under par at the halfway stage of the first women’s major championship of the year, having only qualified via last week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open.

The Swede, who has fought back to fitness after a golf cart crash in 2018, sits at one under par, a stroke clear of American Austin Ernst and Sophia Popov from Germany.

Ernst, who was out in the second group at 6:41am BST on Friday morning, claimed three birdies on her front nine on her way to a 70, while Popov finished with a birdie for a 72 late in the day to join her at even par.

A five-strong group of players share fourth place on one over. That quintet is comprised of Minjee Lee, Jasmine Suwannapura, Lydia Ko, Emily Kristine Pedersen and Lindsey Weaver, who is impressing without the use of a caddie.

Lee signed for a superb 69 after two closing birdies, while Ko added a 71 as she chases a third major title. The New Zealander, who became the youngest world number one aged only 17, tied third at the 2015 AIG Women’s Open.

World number four Nelly Korda is well-placed at two over after a second 72, while Inbee Park, who won the 2015 event at Turnberry, again showed her love for links golf as she carded a 69 to move into contention on four over. Park began the day in 88th and finished it in a tie for 17th.

Home favourite Catriona Matthew slipped to five over, while it proved a difficult day for overnight leader Amy Olson, who followed up her opening 67 with a 10-over-par 81. Fellow American Marina Alex also struggled, starting the day in a tie for second place but dropping to seven over after a 79.

The cut mark for the top 65 players and ties fell at nine over par. 

Defending champion Hinako Shibuno dropped out on 12 over, with leading names Charley Hull, Brooke Henderson, Stacy Lewis and Dame Laura Davies also among those missing out on the weekend.