|Celine Herbin hits a tee shot at the 10th at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid
South African Lee-Anne Pace and Celine Herbin of France are tied for the halfway lead in the Open de España after two rounds at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.
After a scorching day with temperatures of 38C, the duo sits at eight-under-par, with rookie professionals Jia Yun Li of China and Isabella Ramsay of Sweden two shots behind.
Cheyenne Woods of the United States started the day as the outright leader on eight-under but dropped six shots back from the lead at two-under after a second-round of 78.
The 2010 LET money list winner Pace powered into the lead with a 69, containing four birdies and a solitary bogey. “I played pretty solid: 15 greens today. I didn’t think I struck the ball as well as yesterday but still 15 greens, 15 birdie chances. When I missed it I only just missed the green. I’m just going through a really good time with my golf,” said the current European number two.
She took the heat in her stride and added: “There are some really hot spots you walk through. When the breeze is there it’s fine but sometimes, like on the ninth tee, that’s hot!”
Herbin fired three birdies on the front nine and two on the back, with a bogey on the 15th in a second-round 68.
“I’m happy with my game: pretty steady, only one bogey: 32 holes without a bogey, which is my record. I didn’t miss too many shots. I hit 17 greens, yesterday 16 greens, so I’m very happy with my game and enjoying it,” she said.
The 30-year-old second season LET player feels at home in Spain as she lives in Santander and is coached by Vicente Ballesteros, who is also her caddie.
“My coach knows the course very well, so he’s helping me a lot. He’s Seve’s brother, Vicente,” said Herbin, adding: “Spain is my second home. I’m French but I’ve been living in Spain for the last seven years.”
For 24-year-old LET rookie Li, from Guangzhou, the hot conditions were normal: “Last week I was in Shanghai and it was even hotter so here is fine for me.”
She shot a 66 in a co-sanctioned China/Korean LPGA event a fortnight ago and added: “I’ve been having some good rounds I just need to be a bit more consistent.”
The 2011 Spanish Open winner Melissa Reid and Frenchwoman Valentine Derrey share fifth on five-under-par, with a further four players a stroke further behind: Klara Spilkova, Tania Elosegui, Joanna Klatten and Mikaela Parmlid.
Woods was still smiling and posing for photographs with local children after her round, despite having taken 14 shots more than the previous day.
Speaking after her round, she said: “I survived! The course kicked my butt but I’m alive. I get to play tomorrow so that’s good and I definitely learned a lot.
“After yesterday it’s hard to shoot eight under and come back and not have the expectations to play that well again so it’s my first year and that was my first time being in the lead and it was definitely exciting.
“I didn’t make many putts today and then again I didn’t give myself that many chances. I wasn’t as sharp as yesterday.
“This is golf and it’s the reason why I love the game. You never know what to expect, every day is different and I’m just going to go back out tomorrow and grind it out.”