Koch edges clear in Wales

Carin Koch has shot a 4-under 68 to edge clear of the field at the halfway stage of the S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe.

Sweden’s Carin Koch shot a 4-under par 68 to edge one shot clear of the field at the halfway stage of the S4C Wales Ladies Championship of Europe at Conwy.

Koch carded five birdies and one bogey on a windy afternoon on the links at Conway to move a stroke ahead of Christel Boeljon from the Netherlands.

The three-time tournament champion, with friend and mind coach Malin Hedlund as her caddie, fired three birdies over the front nine to turn with 32 and then birdied the long 10th. She dropped a shot at the 14th but recovered with a birdie on 18.

“I had a really good day and made some really good putts out there and played solid,” said Koch, whose last tournament victory was at the 2005 Corona Morelia Championship.

“I made good putts on two and three, maybe 15 footers to save par and that got me off to a good start. The birdie on the fifth was good because it’s a tough hole. On eight, I hit a good putt and nine and 10 and was on the green in two.

“I like to play in tough conditions because it makes you focus a bit more. It’s a different kind of game. I’ll try to keep playing good and making the putts and having some fun in the windy conditions.”

Boeljon, 23, from Beverwijk, matched three birdies with three bogeys for a round of 72.

The second season Ladies European Tour professional started at the 11th and birdied the 14th and 16th to get to three-under for the tournament, but dropped a shot at the third when she missed the green. She birdied the seventh but bogeyed the ninth and the tenth.

“I had a bogey, bogey finish and that’s a little disappointing but overall I think I’m playing well,” she said.

The overnight leader, Vikki Laing of Scotland, shot 74 and dropped back to even par alongside Melissa Reid of England, who had a 68. Laing was two under after 16 but double bogeyed the tough par-four 17th-hole.

Reid, who won the 2007 British Amateur Championship at Conwy the year before she turned professional, knows the course well as does her caddie, Lee Griffiths, who was beaten down the last in the quarter finals of the Welsh Amateur Championship by Rhys Davies in 2002.

She is eying her second win as a professional after her maiden win in Turkey and said: “Whether I finish second or 16th makes no difference to me: it’s whether I finish first or not. Obviously I’m going to play aggressive now.”

South African Lee-Anne Pace, the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open champion, carded a 71 to finish the day in fifth at one over par.

Germany’s Anja Monke was the day’s biggest movers after her rounds of 67 and 69 and moved to two over to lie level with Frenchwoman Anne-Lise Caudal (73) and the leading home players, and Becky Brewerton (69) and Sahra Hassan (72) from Wales.

Brewerton, from nearby Abergele, had four birdies and one bogey on her card and said: “The wind was nowhere near as bad as yesterday, but I’m really happy. Looking at the scores there are only two people under par at the moment. It just shows how tough the course is playing and I think it shows that there is some good golf being played because the course is playing so difficult.”

Hassan, from Bridgend, shot 72 and said: “It was solid. I didn’t make many mistakes. Overall I just holed some good putts and kept it steady. I was one under at one point but made two silly mistakes on eight and nine.”

Local amateur Amy Boulden, 17, from nearby Llandudno, added an 81 to her opening 72 but was one of six Welsh players to make the cut along with Becky Morgan, Jo Pritchard and Lydia Hall.

The 2009 champion Karen Stupples was five shots off the lead on three over par along with fellow Englishwoman Elizabeth Bennett and Italian Federica Piovano.

The 2001 champion Helen Alfredsson of Sweden was a shot further back, with England’s Laura Davies seven shots off the lead at five over par.

The Top 10 Leaderboard
142 – Carin Koch (SWE) 74 68
143 – Christel Boeljon (NL) 71 72
144 – Vikki Laing (SCO) 70 74, Melissa Reid (ENG) 76 68
145 – Lee-Anne Pace (SA) 74 71
146 – Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) 73 73, Sahra Hassan (WAL) 74 72, Becky Brewerton (WAL) 77 69, Anja Monke (GER) 79 67
147 – Elizabeth Bennett (ENG) 76 71, Karen Stupples (ENG) 76 71, Federica Piovano (ITA) 75 72