Indian open: Gwladys maintains lead, but India’s Vaishavi remains in hot pursuit

Vaishavi-Sinha-2New Delhi: Overnight leader Gwladys Nocera just about managed to stay at the top of the leaderboard with a second round score of one-under 72 for a two-day total of 10-under in the US $ 300,000 Hero Women’s Indian Open, tri-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour (LET), the Ladies Asian Golf Tour (LAGT) and the Women’s Golf Association of India (WGAI) here on Friday.

India’s Vaishavi Sinha, who created a sensation with her stunning performance in the first round by carding a 6 under 67 for the second place, also retained her overnight 2nd position despite a subdued round of 2 under 71 for a two-day score of eight-under that leaves her two strokes adrift of Nocera going into the third and final round tomorrow.

Compared to the fireworks in Round 1 that saw Nocera return an error-free card, the French golfer had a much more subdued outing today. The former LET Order of Merit winner dug deep into here experience to score two birdies and a bogey. The highlight of her play today was her ability to extricate herself from difficult situations, especially on hole nos. 14 and 16.

​"​I think I did reasonably well given that I didn’t putt too well. I took 33 putts. Today, the pin positions were tough and pretty tricky. I​t ​was easy to make mistakes. Thankfully, my driving and iron play were good,” said Nocera.

The 12-time winner on the LET is aware of the challenge that she faces from Sinha, going into the final round. “I am not going to think too much about tomorrow’s score. I’ll concentrate more on playing a good game and try to eliminate the mistakes that I made today,” she said.

Sinha, teeing off from the 10th hole, sunk three birdies on the 11th, 13th and 18th and a bogie on the 12th. On the turn she scored two more birdies on the 1st and 2nd, but two back-to-back bogies cancelled out the gains leaving her at two-under for the day, which was enough to retain sole second place on the board.

Sinha, who will turn 24 on Saturday, is looking forward to give herself the biggest birthday present in her golfing career. But she is aware of what lies ahead in the decider tomorrow. “Yesterday I hit 12 greens and today I hit 10 greens. My hitting was a lot worse today and it was quite frustrating because I didn’t miss greens just on the edge, I was missing way left and they were wild shots, so my short game was really good today. I hit 25 putts, which was the same as yesterday,” said Sinha.

Defending champion Thidapa Suwannapura of Thailand, who was in tied fifth place overnight, moved into sole third place after carding two-under 71. In her second outing, the Thai golfer scored five birdies and three bogies. The biggest gainer on the day, however, was India’s​ Hero MotoCorp sponsored​ Sharmila Nicollet. From tied 10th place after Round 1, the lanky Indian golfer moved into tied fourth with a card of two-under. However, her scorecard doesn’t reflect her aggressive play that saw her sink an eagle on the 8th. She also sunk four birdies that were unfortunately undone by four bogies spread evenly on either side of the turn.

​"​I started badly, the game picked up as the day progressed. My putting improved and my driving was pretty precise. But the pin positions were tough and I played a mix of attacking and conservative game. As for tomorrow you never know, I will be going for a win,” said Nicollet.