Stacey Lee Bregman finished as the best-placed South African after Thursday’s second round of the BMW Ladies Italian Open at Sheraton Parco de Medici in Rome, care of a great first day in Italy.
Bregman scorched through her first day’s 18 holes, carding 6 birdies to finish two shots and one place behind overnight leader, Denmark’s Karen-Margrethe Juul.
But her Thursday round must have been frustrating, as five bogies against three birdies saw her concede a great first day’s work to finish in a group of six with Australia’s Nikki Garret for a share of 13th place.
Fellow South African Lee Anne Pace returned well on Thursday to card a two-under par 70 for the round after a first-round two-over par 74, for an overnight place six off the pace, and in a group of 15 including defending champion Gwladys Nocera for a share of 19th place.
Pace and Bregman will be glad to have made the cut to continue in Italy, but they will miss Laurette Maritz who, after showing brilliant form two weekends ago to finish fifth in the Spanish Open, has failed to progress past the half-way mark in the two tournaments following.
Maritz scored two rounds of 75 each at the Ladies Italian Open, with a total of two birdies against eight bogies seeing her early exit in Italy.
Meanwhile Denmark’s Karen-Margrethe Juul, Australia’s Sarah Kemp and Italy’s Stefania Croce share the lead on eight-under-par after the second round.
Juul, who opened with a career low eight-under 64 to lead by two strokes overnight, led for the second consecutive day after an even par 72.
Australia’s Sarah Kemp continued her blistering form of late with a faultless four-under-par 68 and Croce fired an eight-under-par 64.
It was the Italian’s best round in 15 years on the Ladies European Tour and tied the course record set by New Zealander Lynn Brooky in 2005, which was then equalled by Juul in Wednesday’s opening round.
Croce, 37, from Bergamo, fired eight birdies, with four on the front nine and four more on the back nine. She bettered her previous personal best of seven-under 65 by a stroke.
"I putted well and I hit a lot of greens," said Croce, whose only Tour victory was at the 1992 Ford Ladies’ Classic. "It feels great to be leading at home in Italy.
“I’ve never been leading in an Italian tournament before. I hit 16 greens today and that was the key. I’ve scored eight under before but never in an LET competition," said Croce.
Juul, 31, from Denmark, maintained her position atop the leaderboard despite a mixed round with three birdies and three bogeys.
She was unfortunate at the par-four fifth hole, which she bogeyed, as her tee shot hit a golf cart containing an Italian television crew and it bounced back in the wrong direction, giving her a much longer approach shot.
"Today was a hard day at the office," said Juul. "It was very frustrating because I felt like I was playing better than I scored. I started with a bogey at the first and then I hit the TV crew on the fifth.
I had to hit a longer iron than everybody else into a tough protected green,” continued Juul. “I guess that got me a bit more focused and I’m pleased to be tied at the top of the leaderboard."