Hull keeps lead on wind-blown second day in Abu Dhabi

Charley Hull holds a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open after surviving a day when strong winds hit Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi.

The 22-year-old from Kettering carded a level par 72 to remain at five-under, with fellow English Solheim Cup star Jodi Ewart Shadoff right behind her. Ewart Shadoff nabbed two birdies in her last three holes for a two-under 70, which tied the best round of the day with three other players.

A stroke further back in a share of third are Marianne Skarpnord, who posted a 70, Cajsa Persson, who had a 71 and Luna Sobron, who carded a 72, on a day when only 11 players managed to break par.

Hull played the front nine in level par after making her first birdie on the par-5 second hole, but bogeyed the sixth and eighth, before making another birdie on the long ninth.

She dropped into a share of the lead with Sobron after another bogey on 13, but regained her lead with a gutsy birdie on the par-3 17th.

Although the hole is one of the most scenic on the course, adjacent to a stunning white beach, it is also one of the toughest, with no protection from the 25 mph winds blowing in across the Arabian Gulf. Hull was one of only eight players to birdie the hole, after rolling in her 15-foot putt. 

Hull said afterwards: “It was really tough out there today. To give you an example, I flushed a 7-iron 118 yards on hole 17. The pin was 120 yards and I still came up short. I usually hit that club 165-170 yards, so that is a ridiculous wind.

“It was lucky that we had Tifdwarf Bermuda grass on the greens, because in the UK the ball would have been oscillating.

“I’ve still got loads to work on for tomorrow’s round but I feel good with where my game’s at. Hopefully it’s not as windy, because my new irons are going super spinny, so it’s not ideal in this wind.”

While Hull has two career wins, the 2014 Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco and the 2016 CME Globe in Florida, Ewart Shadoff is targeting her first victory as a professional golfer.

The 30-year-old from Northallerton is not a fan of playing in linksy conditions, so she was thrilled with her performance.

“Shooting 70 today definitely felt much lower than the previous day. It was brutal and I hit 16 greens, which was really solid for these conditions. I hit two good putts on 16 and 17 which really helps,” she said.

“I had a 7-iron into 16 from about 129 yards, straight into the wind and I holed about a 15 footer. On 17, it was about the same yardage and same size putt, so two decent putt lengths.”

Sobron, 24, from Mallorca is another serious contender, looking for her first Ladies European Tour win. She carded the course record of 10-under-par 62 in the tournament’s last staging and grew up playing in the wind.

Norwegian Skarpnord is a three-time winner on the LET but hasn’t won on the tour since the rain-hit South African Women’s Open in 2013, although she did win the 2015 Vic Open on a links course.

Sweden’s Persson teamed up with Linda Wessberg to win a gold medal in the European Team Golf Championships at Gleneagles in July, but is looking for her first individual title.

The other players rounding out the top 10 are Nanna Koerstz Madsen, Sarah Kemp and Nicole Broch Larsen in joint sixth on two-under, Rebecca Artis in ninth on one-under and Amy Boulden in 10th position on level par.

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