American Casey Danielson took the lead on day two at the LET’s Lalla Aicha Tour School – Final Stage, being played over the Amelkis Golf and Palm Golf Ourika courses in Marrakech, Morocco.
On a chilly day in the Ochre City, Danielson, from Asceola, Wisconsin, drilled in six birdies for a flawless 66 at the Amelkis Golf course, which tied for the best score of the second round with Ainil Bakar from Malaysia and Elina Nummenpaa from Finland, who also played on the Amelkis course.
At 11-under for the tournament, Danielson is a stroke ahead of amateur Julia Engström, 16, from Halmstad, Sweden, who played her second round on the Palm Golf Ourika course.
The 2017 European PING Junior Solheim Cup team member recovered from a double bogey on the third hole with an eagle on the fifth, where she hit a wedge shot into the green and spun her ball back into the hole.
“On the third I hit a bad wedge that spun into the waste so it was nice coming back after that with an eagle on the fifth. It was very solid for 17 holes apart from the third and I made some putts. I hope to keep this up but there is still a lot of golf left and anything can happen,” said Engström, who has her mum, Jeanette, acting as her caddie.
Hayley Davis from Dorset, England, carded a 68 to sit alongside Bakar in third position on six-under-par.
A group of four are tied for fifth at five-under overall including two young Frenchwomen, Anais Meyssonnier and Manon Molle, looking to follow in the footsteps of the successful French rookies Camille Chevalier and Céline Boutier, who both attended Lalla Aicha Tour School 12 months ago and won tournaments in 2017, their first year on Tour.
Meysonnier, 20, from Arles in Provence, (below) turned professional in February and has warmed up for Lalla Aicha Tour School with 10 starts on the LET Access Series, with her best result being 19th at the Bossey Ladies Open.
She said: “I had an excellent day. I had two bogeys, including one where I put the ball in the water. The putting was the same as yesterday and the day before, so I’m pleased with where I am.”
Molle, 23, from Brittany, has a unique connection with Morocco as she recently moved to Marrakech to live with her sister and her husband, who is the director of golf at Palm Golf Ourika and she practises full-time at the course.
“This will be my home now, because the weather is lovely and the courses are awesome,” said Molle, who studied languages, including Spanish and Japanese, at university in New Mexico.
“Today was okay but not as good as yesterday. I got unlucky with some shots and some putts. I think I had the speed from yesterday and not for the course today. To play poorly and shoot one-under, I’ll take it,” she said.
With 25 Tour cards on the line after the fifth and final round on Wednesday, 29 players were on two-under-par or better after two rounds.
Danielson, who recently graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Public Policy, is looking down on the rest of the field.
She said: “I’m really excited to be here in Morocco. I’ve been playing in some mini tour events, two Symetra Tour events, an LPGA event and a US Women’s Open this summer, so really just a little bit of everything.
“I know Kathryn Imrie, who used to play on the LET and she was my swing coach at Stanford University. She changed my game! During my time there, Condoleezza Rice was my academic advisor so I had some meetings with her and she was also a big supporter of our golf team at Stanford and so we got to know her on a personal level. I’ve played some great courses with her and she’s a great person, so it’s been a great journey so far.”
A Gutsy performance from both sides