Michl takes slender lead in France

Austrian Stefanie Michl pulled a stroke clear of the field at the halfway stage of the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.

Austrian Stefanie Michl pulled a stroke clear of the field at the halfway stage of the Lacoste Ladies Open de France.
The 25-year-old from Graz fired a superb five under par 67 on a hot and sunny morning at Paris International Golf Club.
She stood at nine under par ahead of Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom, followed by fellow Finns Minea Blomqvist and Kaisa Ruuttila, France’s Virginie Lagoutte-Clement and Italian Diana Luna one further back in joint third.
“I’m happy with the way I played. I holed a few nice putts and gave myself a few good looks so I’m happy,” said Michl, who is playing for her first Ladies European Tour victory in five years as a professional.
“The driver was better yesterday, for sure, but my irons, I hit some pretty close. I made some clutch putts so I think the putting was pretty good today.”
Michl earned a runner-up finish at the Sanya Ladies Open in China last October but her 2011 season is yet to ignite.
She is currently down at 88th on the Henderson Money List after two top 20 finishes from 15 starts this season, but is now well placed to collect the first prize of €37,500 and secure her card for 2012.
Wikstrom is also in the hunt for a maiden victory following three runner-up finishes in eight seasons on Tour and her form is peaking at just the right time after a tie for seventh in Prague and a tie for fifth at the recent Open de Espana Femenino.
The 31-year-old from Espoo said: “Today was good. I was making some putts and didn’t really make any bogeys so that was pretty decent golf today. The greens are running well and the course is playing short so you get a lot of opportunities to make birdies if you’re putter is working.”
“I’ve been struggling at the beginning of the season so now it’s finally starting to pay off a little bit. Two more days and hopefully we’ll have a good tournament.”
Lagoutte-Clement, a three-time winner on Tour, shot 72 to end the day two shots off the pace but was frustrated with her putting.
“I am not very happy today because I didn’t play well,” she said. “On 18 I hit the green in two and made three putts.”
Fellow Frenchwoman Cassandra Kirkland who held a one stroke lead overnight, started well but slipped back to six under par with a round of 74 to sit alongside Becky Morgan, Felicity Johnson and Giulia Sergas.
Sunday’s Solheim Cup heroines Laura Davies and Caroline Hedwall were at five and four under respectively and well within striking distance going into the weekend. However United States Solheim Cup team member Christina Kim ended two over after rounds of 71 and 75 and missed the halfway cut by a shot.