On a hot and humid day in Mongomo Ben Follett-Smith kept his cool, despite by his own admission not producing his best golf, to shoot 2-under 70 and move to the top of the leaderboard at 5-under on day two at the 3e Actuaries Open while Leticia Ras-Anderica edged ahead in the ladies’ contest with a 69 to move to 3-under for the tournament.

“I shot two under to today, I kind of struggled and didn’t hit my best but managed to get it around the golf course,” said the Zimbabwean (shown below) who only turned pro in September this year after graduating with a marketing degree from Mississippi State University. “That’s what you’ve got to do, especially as a professional – I’m a new pro so I’m still learning the ways. But shooting two under when not playing my best is an improvement for me because usually my bad scores are more like two over or one over. Being able to play badly and shoot under par is what I’m aiming for.”

Follett-Smith has made an auspicious start to life as a professional golfer, winning his first title at the National Aids Council (NAC) HIV and Cancer Prevention Drive Pro-Am and adding a second place finish on the West Africa Golf Tour in Ivory Coast. But the 23 year old, who played in last week’s Joburg Open on the European Tour, admits victory against the high-quality field in Mongomo this week would be a huge stepping stone in a career that he hopes will one day take him to the US PGA Tour for a shot at the Majors.

“It’s nice to be top of the leaderboard,”he said. “Especially living in Africa myself, it’s nice to come here to Equatorial Guinea and be able to play good golf and hopefully I can stay at the top for the rest of the week!

“It’s nice knowing I’ve got the game to compete with the guys here. There are some good Swedish players here, some European Tour guys and some Challenge Tour guys out here playing so it’s nice to test myself against them.

“It would mean a great deal to win and the money is obviously a big bonus – moving forward to Asian Tour Q-School it would give me a lot of confidence and allow me to move my career forward.”

Tight at the top

Hot on Follett-Smith’s heals are English pair Kyson Lloyd (69) (who qualified in the Worldwide Golf qualifier at Emirates Golf Club) and Luke Joy (71) along with Spain’s Xavier Puig Giner who had a great round of 68 all tied at 4-under, while former PGA Tour player Charlie Wi is lurking a shot further back alongside Sunshine Tour pair Jared Harvey and Peter Karmis.

The ladies contest here in Mongomo is proving to be an equally fascinating spectacle with just three shots separating the top 12 players on the leaderboard.

Ladies event heating up

Ladies European Tour player Ras-Anderica, who was in Dubai last week for the Ladies Classic, carded a sensational six birdies, four of them on the bounce from holes six to nine, over the tough Presidential Golf Course layout to card a three under par round and take a slender advantage into the third round.

But a group of five players are breathing down the leader’s neck at 3-under with Chloe Leurquin (71), Christine Wolf (69), Jenny Lee (73), Kyle Roig (68) and Paula Hurtada (71) all very much in the mix while Britain’s Jane Turner is just one shot further back after a solid round of 71.

“I was just going through my process to be honest, just enjoying the day,” said Ras-Anderica who shot level par 72 in yesterday’s opening round. “I came here with an open mind, I wasn’t expecting such a good golf course here, it’s impeccable and a great design. I didn’t have a practice round so today felt a lot easier than yesterday.

“I just tried to hit fairways, greens and hole some putts and it worked out.”

Things couldn’t be tighter at the top and it’s all still to play for as moving day beckons at the 3e Actuaries Open.

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