Ladies European Tour
Nov 6th, 2020
Hedwall still on top in Dubai
Swede holds a narrow lead going into final round
Photography: Tristan Jones / LET
With only 18-holes to go, the Swedish star might not have had her best golf on display but again looked in control tee to green as she returned her second successive bogey-free round including 16 pars and two birdies.
“I have been playing very steady, hitting a lot of greens and I’ve been good within two metres of the hole. Today I had a lot of putts that didn’t drop so maybe five-under would have been a fair score but I’m in a good position for tomorrow and I am happy with my game.”
With all 56 players having enjoyed one round under the floodlights, tomorrow’s draw sees the format change from a pro-am to a regular three ball shotgun start, with the leading group of Hedwall, MacLaren and Minjee Lee teeing off from the first.
Chasing a seventh LET title, the four-time Solheim Cup star will be in search of her first LET trophy since the 2018 Lacoste Ladies Open de France and will battle it out against a packed international leaderboard containing as many as nine different nationalities in the top-ten, including former world no. 1 Lydia Ko and the highest ranked player in the field, Minjee Lee.
Most leaders of a LET tournament would think their day was complete once their scorecard was signed but not Hedwall, who headed straight back to the hotel to work on a project she took on during the first COVID-19 lockdown in April.
“I am actually studying criminology at the moment to try and get a degree, it is nice to have something to focus on when you are back in the room. It is stressful at times with 100% of the course completed remotely. I’ve been doing lots of essays and I have one to do tonight as the deadline is tomorrow.”
Luckily tomorrow’s final round doesn’t begin until 5 pm (local time), giving her adequate time to turn in her papers before the deadline.
Two-time LET winner Meghan MacLaren is her nearest challenger, lying just one-shot back at eight-under-par after recording her second round of 67 in the Dubai sun.
“I enjoy the conditions here, the course is in great condition and you just have to look around, it’s a great place to be. The good weather is a plus and it’s nice to come back somewhere you’ve been before, I’ve learnt from last year.”
Expecting to prosper more on the greens in the daylight but looking to make a move tomorrow, MacLaren added, “I thought I’d find the greens easier today but to be honest I didn’t. I don’t know if I am overthinking it now but on the whole, I’ve been rolling it well all week. It’s the biggest improvement of my game and I feel that I can take advantage of my good play and make more out of my rounds.”
Lurking a stroke further adrift at seven-under-par after a sublime 65, which included a front nine of 30 strokes, is Australian Minjee Lee and Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck.
Consistency is key to Lee’s game and she has recorded a remarkable 52 career top-ten finishes since turning professional in 2015. In search of her first LET win, the Australian may not be studying like Hedwall but is comfortable with having to wait until tomorrow evening to start her final round.
“I don’t mind being inside until tomorrow’s afternoon round because it is so hot out here and I’m just going to trust I’ve done enough practice last week before I came out here. There are a few shows on my Netflix that aren’t available in America such as a few Korean dramas. I felt like I watched all of the American shows while we were in lockdown the first time, so I am happy to see some new options.”
Fuenfstueck is the lowest scoring player from the morning – evening draw combination, completing her second round under the floodlights in a credible score of 70. Threatening to challenge Hedwall on several occasions, she twice got to eight-under-par, only to falter with a closing bogey on her final hole.
“It took me some time to get used to the dark but I think you just have to go with it, I said to my caddie, we are in Dubai, playing night golf, let’s just have some fun and I started playing better.”
Narrowly missing out on the final group, the German will be paired with Lydia Ko and Solheim Cup star Celine Boutier as a consolation in the penultimate group.
“It’s been nice to be up there from the start because I have had some slow starts, I am really excited to be in the mix and I am excited to be here. It’s been nearly a year since I’ve been in contention, so I am looking forward to tomorrow with two great players.”
Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen matched Lee’s round-of-the-week 65 to move from +4 to -3 on the leaderboard while American Alison Lee made the most of her LET debut, firing a round of 68 to move inside the top-ten.