13 Sep 19
There is an unmistakeable sense of déjà vu ahead of the third and final round of the WPGA International Challenge at Stoke by Nayland Hotel Golf and Spa.
A play-off has been needed to determine the winner in the last two years and with three shots spanning seven players nursing realistic hopes of claiming the €5,600 first prize, one would be ill-advised to bet against another.
Indeed, had the latest of the seven editions of the tournament staged at the Suffolk venue ended after two and not three rounds, Manon De Roey (above) and Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso (below) would have had to make that familiar trek back up the par-three 18th to engage in a sudden-death showdown.
Having shared pole position with Rachael Goodall at the end of round one, Italy’s Colombotto Rosso is now being kept company by De Roey, the defending champion.
While the Italian was unable to improve her round one score of five-under by more than a shot, Belgium’s De Roey stepped up her determined bid to retain her title.
The 27-year-old from Antwerp reprised her opening three-under-par round of 69 and such was her consistency that once again she recorded five birdies that were offset by two bogeys.
Her consistency is not restricted to the Gainsborough course at the resort, however.
“I went to the spa every day last year and I’m doing the same this year,” she revealed. “I have good memories from last year and I’m hoping to do it again this year.”
As for her performance on the course, she added: “I think my tee shots are pretty good, being in good positions, and then I’m rolling in some putts as well.
“I also try to take advantage of the par-fives because they’re reachable and I stick to my game plan. I look at what I did last year and it’s working well!”
De Roey’s three-under-par round was matched by England’s Cloe Frankish and the latest recruit to the women’s paid ranks, her compatriot, Alice Hewson.
As a result Frankish is a shot adrift of the co-leaders and Hewson lies tied fourth with three others on three-under. That quartet is completed by England’s Goodall, My Leander of Sweden and, ominously, Lydia Hall of Wales.
Her presence is ominous on two counts – she was runner up last year and champion in 2017 – both following play-offs!
Meanwhile, the 2019 Women’s PGA Order of Merit winner Holly Morgan (above) continues to bear the standard for The PGA.
The 22-year-old PGA Assistant from the Hallamshire Golf Club, Sheffield, ended the day on three-over-par to make the cut by two shots.
In doing so, and doubtless not for the first time nor the last, she discovered what a capricious and infuriating game this can be.
Having been one-under for the tournament after 15 holes of the second round and looking to close the gap on the leaders, she finished bogey, double bogey, bogey.
In fairness, the two bogeys – finding a bunker at the par three-16th and three-putting the 18th – could be attributed to operator error. The double bogey, however, could be described as the product of ill-fortune.
An errant tee-shot at the par-four 17th flirted with a tree and instead of bouncing compliantly back on to the fairway, the ball ricocheted out of bounds.
“I guess it is Friday the 13th,” she lamented.
A full list of scores can be accessed via this link: