SPAIN’S Nuria Iturrios holds a four-shot lead midway through the Pacific Bay Resort Australian Ladies Classic after a superb second round of 67, played in strong winds and rain at Bonville.
Just nine players are in red figures for the tournament with Iturrios leading on eight-under-par.
Overnight leader Doey Choi dropped to four-under and outright second with fellow Australian Hannah Green in third on three-under.
Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, Jenny Haglund and rookie Linnea Strom share fourth with Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord.
Those out early played through squally conditions with a fickle wind, which strengthened considerably for the afternoon wave.
Iturrios’ 67 was the best round of the day and she was only one of two players to break 70 along with Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen (69), lying in a share of 10th.
The 2016 Lalla Meryem Cup champion, 23, from Palma de Mallorca, carded five birdies on day two at Bonville Golf Resort.
Iturrios said: “Thirty-six holes with no bogeys – I’m feeling so good! I’m feeling comfortable with my game, so let’s see. Hopefully 36 holes more.”
She has changed her swing over the winter to hit a lower flight, which helped her to control the ball in the wet and blustery conditions.
“I made three or four birdies in that wind, so I’m feeling so great. I’ll just keep hitting those low balls,” Nuria added.
“I love to be in this position. Finally I have the cameras around me again! I’m going to have some mango sticky rice tonight and sleep well.”
Sydney amateur Choi dropped two shots in her first three holes but then steadied the ship and had a 74.
Doey said: “It was really windy out there, so I’m pleased with my score today.
“When you’re out there, it feels like you’re the only one, but I think I did a good job in holding it together and I think I did really well out there today.”
On playing in the last group with Iturrios and Green, she said: “I think I’ll be a little nervous but it’s not my first time in contention so I’ve just got to block it out and play my own game.”
Green remains highly motivated to win on home soil for the first time and takes comfort from her ball striking in the conditions.
She said: “I knew it was going to be difficult so I’m pleased to shoot level par and it felt like under par but I did leave a lot out there, so there are good signs for the next couple of days.”
Strom, who is playing in her first Ladies European Tour event as a rookie professional, was tied for third with Green but bogeyed the last hole in fading light.
Linnea said: “It was very tough. You really needed to focus on every shot and I think that’s why I got a little tired at the end. I felt that it was a very long round and in this wind, it’s very difficult.
“I didn’t think about the score today. During the round, I didn’t know where I was at and I just tried to hit every shot wherever I decided to.”
She added that having former LET order of merit winner and Solheim Cup player Sophie Gustafson as her caddie was helpful.
“I think we worked really well together as a team,” Strom said . We were both very clear about what kind of shots to hit and where to end up and it worked out well.
“Usually I don’t refer to her on the greens but today I thought with the wind and the grain, it was nice to have someone to discuss it with to make sure you don’t make any easy mistakes.”
Surrey-born LPGA rookie Charlotte Thomas ensured her third pay day in a row Down Under – having started the season with second place in the ISPS Handa Vic Open – she moved up into a share of 12th with a one-under par 71.
After dropping a shot at the second, she birdied the par five 10th for a second day in a row and picked up another shot at the 16th to match the total of playing partner Becky Morgan, who is also in a share of 12th place nine shots behind Iturrios.
Wellingboro’s Meghan MacLaren produced a second 73 of the week to lie a further shot back in 22nd spot. Last year’s NSW Women’s Open winner is the highest placed English player alongside former English Amateur Champion Felicity Johnson, whose 74 was two more than in round one.
Hertforshire’s Hannah Burke also made the cut with a shot to spare despite a disappointing 80 after an opening 71.
Essex’s Charlotte Thompson (72, 80) and Gabrielle Cowley (76, 77) both missed the cut.