*Gaurika Bishnoi

Two home challengers  Gaurika Bishnoi and Amandeep Drall played contrasting rounds but got into a four-way lead at the midway stage of the US$400,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open at the DLF Golf & Country Club here on Friday.

On a day, when the pin positions were trickier than the opening round, the Indian contingent had a fine day with 15 players-the highest ever-, including three amateurs, out of  30  making the cut.

In all, 64 players, 61 professionals, and three amateurs survived on the course with just 12 in a field of 114 bringing in under-par cards in the second round.

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*Caroline Hedwall

Gaurika, 25,  who had one under 71  first round returned four under 68,  while Amandeep Drall carded par round  (67-72),  joined Finland’s Noora Komulainen (67-72) and Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall (68-71) at 5-under at the top of the leader board, which comprised two players each from India and Scandinavia. 

Lying sole fifth was another Swede Elin Arvidsson (68-72) at 4-under.

In all, 64 players, 61 professionals and three amateurs survived on the course with just 12 in a field of 114 bringing in under-par cards in the second round.

Gaurika brought home the best card at 4-under 68, and only a dozen players shot in red numbers.

The 2016 winner, Aditi Ashok stayed in the hunt despite missing a bunch of makeable putts. She shot a bogey-free 71 to get to 3-under and was tied sixth alongside England’s Meghan MacLaren (72-69), Spaniard Luna Sobron Galmes (69-72) and South African Nicole Garcia (69-72).

Aditi said, “I missed a lot of putts, but the good part was that I played bogey-free, so the feelings are mixed.”

Gaurika started Day 2 on the tenth tee on a none-too-happy note with bogeys on her first two holes. She got back the shots with birdies on the 13th and 16th. Then on her second nine, the front side of her home course, She again bogeyed on the first.  Then as she said the ‘home course advantage’ kicked in and the remaining eight holes saw her sink no less than five birdies. 

 “I didn't have the best of starts today. I was two over through two holes but I made a birdie on my 4th hole (16th of the course) so the momentum came back. There was another good birdie on 16th and I was one under through the front nine.” 

On the back nine, she excelled with five birdies and one bogey on the first (her 10th hole). She added, “I definitely set up a lot more birdie opportunities today as compared to yesterday. I wouldn't say I converted all of them. I did hit some of them close, some were longish. So it was like a mix of birdies.”

 "Being the home course, some things come instinctively to here. I've been playing here for 13 years. That's why they say that there's a home course advantage."   said  Gaurika who has never missed the cut in four previous starts at the HWIO

Amandeep’s bogey-free run ended early this morning as she dropped a shot on the 11th after starting from the tenth. Back-to-back birdies on 14th and 15th ensured she turned in one-under. The second nine was a roller coaster with two birdies and three bogeys for an even-par 72.

She said, “Today's round was very similar to yesterday's. Nothing good or bad. It's just like I missed it on 2-3 wrong places where I ended up dropping a shot because it's really tough from there. And the course is such that if you miss it at the wrong spot, you end up dropping a shot. So that's exactly what happened today."

*Noora Komulainen

The 31-year-old Finn Noora Komulainen,  has made the cut in all previous six starts and her best has been T-6 in 2018. , “Over the next two days, I guess I will just have a mindset to hit it straight and try to make birdies.” she said

Hedwall, who has one win and two runner-up finishes at the HWIO (only one runner-up finish had been at the Gary Player layout), said, “I think I was playing as well as I did yesterday, really.  So it was nice to turn that to one-under.”

Meghan MacLaren,  tied for 23rd after an even-par first round, had five birdies against two bogeys, and rose to Tied-sixth by the end of the day.

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