Fiery Thomson shoots 64 to take the lead

Fiery Thomson shoots 64 to take the lead

Michele Thomson scorched the DLF Golf and Country Club with a spotless second-round 64 to lead the pack in the Hero Women's Indian Open golf on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Scot fired eight birdies, four on each nine, to break the previous course record of 67 shared by Patcharajutar Kongkraphan (in 2015) and Marianne Skarpnord on Friday.

With a two-round total of 134, Thomson has taken a healthy three-stroke lead ahead of a crowded second place occupied by Frenchwomen Camille Chevalier and Celine Boutier, Australian Sarah Kemp and Vani Kapoor, who kept the Indian hopes alive with another fine round. Vani finished with back-to-back birdies to score 68. She picked up a total of five shots after a bogey on the first hole.

"I found a lot of greens, but was faced with a lot of downhill putts. It is my journey, and I will be happy with whatever happens. If I play well I get a good finish and my LET card, or else I will keep working on it," said Vani.

However, it did not turn out to be an ideal outing for defending champion Aditi Ashok. She hit four birdies and two bogeys for a second straight 70 that took her to four-under and dropped her from tied 10th to tied-13th place.

Thomson, who had scored 70 on the opening day, turned the spotlight on her on Saturday by taming the greens of the challenging Gary Player Course.

Thomson's life story can be as riveting as her sensational game. Once considered a prodigy, she drew comparisons with Tiger Woods back home. As a promising amateur, she had visited India ten years ago to play in Bengaluru at the Emaar-MGF Masters, and finished tied 64. At 20, she turned professional but found the life on the tour lonely.

In 2009, Thomson, 21, quit golf to pursue a career in police force. In little over two years, she left the force and took a job as a caddy at the Trump International Golf Links at Balmedie, Aberdeenshire. She returned a full-time professional in 2014. In 2015 Michele finished 8th in the LET Access Order of Merit which included a win in Spain and 6 top-10 finishes. In 2016 Michele played 15 events on the LET Access Tour resulting in several top 10 finishes and finishing 4th overall in the Order of Merit securing her full card on the LET for 2017.

She came here on a sponsor's invite from Hero. Thomson recalled the moment when she decided to make her return to the course. "I was watching the Ladies European Tour on TV and told my dad, 'I want to give it another shot.' He said, 'I've got your back if you want to do that. Look where I am now," she gushed. "Many of the girls who were there when I left the Tour are still around. It's been fun to get back."

With cut decided at four-over 148, 63 players, including four Indian competitors, will contest the final round. It included Gaurika Bishoi (70, 73), who is at tied 10th and amateur Pranavi Urs who is at tied 51.

Leading scores after second round (Indians unless specified): 134: Michele Thomson (70, 64, Sco), 137: Camille Chevalier (68, 69, Fra), Celine Boutier (71, 66, Fra), Sarah Kemp (71, 66, Aus), Vani Kapoor (69, 68); 138: Carlota Ciganda (70, 68, Spa); 139: Titiya Plucksataporn (71, 68, Tha), Meghan Mclaren (69, 70 , Eng), Belen Mozo (74, 65, Spa), Olivia Cowan (69, 70, Ger), Klara Spilkova (69, 70, Cze), Lydia Hall (72, 67, Wal); 140: Aditi Ashok (70, 70), Rebecca Artis (75, 65, Aus)

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