BALLYMENA: Home hope Stephanie Meadow shares the lead in the women’s event after day two at the World Invitational in Northern Ireland with Leona Maguire one behind. Meadow, 27, hit a one-under-par 71 at the tournament’s second venue Massereene to move to four under. That leaves her tied with Belgium’s Manon De Roey while Maguire is among a seven-strong group on third under.
Sixteen-year-old Galgorm Castle amateur Josh Hill is only four behind men’s event leader England’s Todd Clements. Hill, the leading Irish male at the halfway stage, shot a superb blemish-free three-under 67 at Massereene which leaves him sharing 11th on three under in the tournament which is a first for European golf with it encompassing separate men’s and women’s events with equal prize funds of £207,000.
Clements, ranked 1055th in the world and having never won on Europe’s second-tier men’s circuit, fired a 66 at main venue Galgorm, which would have been one better but for a closing bogey. The 22-year-old is a stroke ahead of a quartet which includes Scotland’s Calum Hill, who won last year’s Northern Ireland Open at Galgorm, England’s Laurie Canter, Italy’s Francesco Laporta and Spain’s Sebastian Garcia Rodriguez.
Heavy overnight rain delayed the start of day two by over two hours but tournament organisers managed to complete the second round before darkness descended. Meadow missed the cut at last week’s Women’s Scottish Open after being handed a difficult draw but had secured top-11 finishes in her two previous LPGA tournaments which suggested she could make an impact in her native Northern Ireland.
So it proved as she moved into the sole lead on six under after 13 holes following four birdies and a solitary dropped shot. A double bogey at her 14th hole, the fifth at Massereene, halted her momentum but she closed with four pars which left her level with Belgian De Roey. Ireland’s former world number one amateur Maguire joined Meadow on four under after 11 holes of her round before suffering successive bogeys but a birdie at the 16th left her only one adrift.
Kildare amateur Lauren Walsh joined Maguire in the group on three under which also includes England’s first-round leader Eleanor Givens who fired a three-over at Massereene and former Solheim Cup star Trish Johnson. For much of the day, Lurgan amateur Annabel Wilson was right at the top of the women’s leaderboard but four dropped shots in her closing six holes left her sharing 13th on level par.
The 18-year-old fired a superb two-under 71 at Galgorm on Thursday after learning earlier in the day that her A-Levels results would be good enough to secure a golf scholarship at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). Those joining Wilson on level par include tournament favourite Charley Hull who fired a one-under 72 at Galgorm and Europe’s Solheim Cup skipper Catriona Matthew.