viernes, 10 de febrero de 2023

STARK SOARS TO THE TOP AFTER DAY TWO OF LALLA MERYEM CUP 2023

                                        



 Maja Stark produced a second round 67 (-6) to hold a two shot lead heading into the weekend at the Lalla Meryem Cup. 

The Swedish star followed up her first round 71 (-2) with a superb showing at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam to sit at the top of the leaderboard on -8 after 36 holes, with India’s Aditi Ashok her nearest challenger on -6. 

Five-time Ladies European Tour (LET) winner Stark did not drop a shot during the second day and rolled in six birdies on the blue course – picking up shots on holes two and seven, as well as 11, 15, 16 and 18 after the turn.

And despite her strong showing, the 2022 Race to Costa Del Sol runner-up believes she could have gone even lower in round two. 

“It was a slow start to the day,” said Stark. “I felt like I could have made a couple more putts in the first nine holes and my irons were a little bit off. I had a bit of a strong grip at first then I overcompensated and had weak grips. 

“I think I found it at the end and made a few longer putts. Overall a very steady and stress free day, now It feels so obvious that I had five or six shots out there that I could have easily avoided.”

Stark is chasing her first win for the year following on from three LET wins and her first win on the LPGA Tour at the 2022 ISPS Handa World Invitational last year. 

Sitting with a two-shot lead heading into the final day, the 23-year-old is looking forward to the challenge of keeping the lead intact. 

“I’m excited for tomorrow,” Stark continued. “I always like a chase but I feel maybe I will have a different goal tomorrow, maybe I will do a Tiger Woods and copy what he did at Pebble Beach when he said no bogeys.

“It’s the last day, so they are going to have to catch me I guess.”

India’s Ashok sits in second place on six-under-par after carding a second round score of 71 (-2) in Morocco. 

The 24-year-old, who won the first LET event of the season – the Magical Kenya Ladies Open at Vipingo Ridge last week – made four birdies and two bogeys on day two at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam and will look to put the pressure on Stark tomorrow to aim for two wins in a row.

“I am a confidence player,” Aditi said. “When you win a tournament you feel like your game is there and even though I didn’t have any practice rounds, I do feel like my game is pretty good this week and I will just continue to play my game.

“It’s nice to be up there after a couple of days but I think this field is pretty strong so I’m sure its not going to be easy.

“I guess it’s different from what i experienced last week because i was leading by a lot last week but it doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. I’m just trying to play the golf course the best i can.”

Thursday’s leader Linnea Ström slipped down the leaderboard to third place on -4 after shooting a second round of 75 (+2) 

After starting on the tenth, the Swede began her day with birdies on holes 11 and 15, before dropping shots on the final two holes of the back nine to turn in level-par. 

But that good work was undone by three more dropped shots on the way in, with a single birdie on the second the only the only saving grace for the 26-year-old. She now looks to put pressure on younger Swede Stark; a player that she has looked up to in the past couple of years. 

“Last year it was really inspiring and motivating for me to see Maja and Linn Grant do so well.” Stark said, “Us older girls have to step up now if we want to do as well as they do. It’s very good for Sweden as a country as well to have such good players.

“I started off the round today very steady, I played good and was very relaxed, but then I had two bogies on 17 and 18. I do think i played decent but unfortunately I didn’t hit very good shots on the par threes.

“If I could choose I would rather be a couple of shots in front going into the final day to kind of take pressure off, but obviously its Maja up there so I will have to prepare myself to play very well tomorrow , if i want to have a chance.”

Swedish players are dominating the leaderboard after Friday’s action, with four-time LET winner Linn Grant heading into the final round in fourth spot. 

After a double bogey on the first, Grant held composure and secured an eagle on the eighth, a par-five hole with the Swede carding a 70 (-3) after the second day. 

“I found it really tough yesterday,” Grant admitted. “I was thinking of what I should be doing rather than just doing what I was supposed to be doing.

“I feel like I’m better today. I’m playing more aggressively today, where I’m usually at. I feel like I’m back in the game. 

“I think the wind was good today, some really short par holes so a lot of wedges in , which is always fun when they work. My driver is feeling really good as well.

“Last year I put a lot of time in with my wedges and forgot about it at the end of the year, and I’ve really picked up on that again , which showed up today.”

Four players then sit in a tie for fifth on two-under par – Spain’s Ana Pelaez Trivino, Italy’s Alessandra Fanali, Czechia’s Jana Melichova, and Switzerland’s Albane Valenzuela.

After the conclusion of the second round the cut fell at +8 with 67 players making it through to the weekend. This includes the Moroccan trio of Ines Laklalech, Maya Haddioui and Sofia Cherif Essakali – the 13-year-old amateur playing in her first LET event.

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