Denmark’s Pedersen shoots eagle-aided 68 to grab lead in Aramco Saudi Ladies International

KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark went from bogey to start and eagle to finish to grab the lead on Friday halfway through the Aramco Saudi Ladies International golf tournament at the Royal Greens and Country Club.

Starting from the back nine at No. 10, Pedersen drilled her hybrid approach shot to 15 feet and made the putt, after a good drive on the par-5 ninth hole to finish the second round on 4-under 68.

Together with her first-round 67, the Race to Costa Del Sol leader Pedersen stood at 9 under for the tournament for a two-shot lead over Wales’ Lydia Hall going into the weekend of the Ladies European Tour-sanctioned event presented by Public Investment Fund (PIF).

“Since the practice rounds, I like it here. It has got a lot of challenge. It’s very important to hit fairways,” said Pedersen of the sun-splashed par-72, 6,385-yard layout on the Red Sea coast.

“No pressure. I just want to really do well this week,” added the 24-year-old, referring to the Race to Costa Del Sol.

Pedersen bogeyed her opening hole but managed level par going out, sinking a six-footer for birdie on 17. She added birdies on Nos. 1 and 4 before capping her round with an eagle.

“There’s still a lot of golf to be played. We’re just halfway. There are a lot of good players out there. Hopefully, I can keep up my game and deliver and we’ll see again. Nothing’s given,” she said.

First-round leader Georgia Hall of England was level with early-finishing Pedersen at 9 under with a birdie on 13, but then, after parring the next hole, disaster struck as she dropped three shots with a double-bogey and bogey on 15 and 16 for a 1-over 73 and 6-under after two days, three off the pace.

Despite her modest display, an unfazed Hall said: “Just three behind which is nothing for the weekend.”

Her Welsh namesake carded three birdies against two bogeys to return 1-under 71 in swirling afternoon winds that gave her a -7 total after 36 holes. “It’s all breezy this afternoon so I can see how the girls were feeling that they had a bad bargain yesterday and two clubs at least wind on a lot of the holes,” she said.

“Important thing was missing on the correct side and not being too aggressive. Overall, I am really pleased and looking forward to the weekend,” she added.

Again, red numbers dominated the scoreboard with Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall shooting eight birdies in a course record-tying 65 by Hall  on opening-day. Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck and Spaniard Luna Sobron Galmes matched cards of 66.

Fuenfstueck sat on -5 in a tie for fourth place with fellow German Esther Henseleit (68), while Galmes was in a group at -4 that included Swedish major winner Anna Nordqvist who posted 69 on Friday.

There were 67 players that made the cut at 7-over 151 including ties for the weekend from a starting field of 108.

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