The weather gods frowned on Bonville today, but not before Meghan MacLaren strung out the Australian Women’s Classic field.
Englishwoman MacLaren had a birdie putt from the fringe on the 11th green when play was suspended at 3.21pm as rain teemed down on a course already made sodden by record rains in the past two months in northern New South Wales.
At eight under, MacLaren leads Spanish veteran Carmen Alonso by a shot, but the next best is her effervescent compatriot Alice Hewson back at four under, with all three yet to complete their second rounds.
Sweden’s Maja Stark, the highest ranked player in the field, is at three under alongside Argentina’s Magdalena Simmermacher and young Aussie amateur Sarah Hammett, who turned in one of the day’s best performances to be two under for her round with two holes left to play.
But they’re all chasing MacLaren, who’s in imperious form and without a bogey in her first 28 holes, despite today’s trying conditions.
“No bogeys is the thing I’m most satisfied with so far,” she said.
“I think not dropping a shot is probably more important than picking up shots because it’s very easy to let a round get away from you when the weather is like that.
MacLaren used sensational distance control with her irons to set up birdies on the third, sixth and ninth holes, with several other chances narrowly missing, to boot.
“Hitting my yardage is a strength of mine when I’m playing well,” she said.
“I use Trackman quite a lot now, so I always feel pretty dialled in. It just shows to me that when I’m striking it well, I know that I’m going to be giving myself opportunities because if I can get a couple on the flag (directionally), they should be in there pretty close.”
Play is scheduled to resume at 7am local time tomorrow, with the third round to have a shotgun start as soon as practical after the cut is made.
“It’s going to be an early start tomorrow and it could be a really long day … so I’m just going to go and get as much rest as I can,” MacLaren said of her mindset after her interrupted round.
“I feel comfortable with where my game is, so I don’t have to and figure stuff out, so just rest and get ready.”
Alonso, who earlier this year became the most prolific player – in terms of tournaments played – in Ladies European Tour history, has had a more adventurous ride.
The 37-year-old fired six birdies against three bogeys today and will resume on the reachable par-5 seventh hole with only the eighth to follow.
Hewson made nine straight pars to start her round before a birdie on the tenth before the siren sounded to end play.
But Hammett, still just 15 and based on the Gold Coast, was even more impressive.
The recently crowned NSW Amateur champion has only the short 17th and reachable par-5 18th to play, but has already moved into contention as the leading amateur and top Aussie.
The sweet-swinging right-hander birdied the sixth and 14th holes and didn’t drop a shot in the wild conditions.