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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Beth Allen misses cut in Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open title defence as Lee-Anne Pace retains lead

American followed up her opening round 73 with a 76 to miss the cut by six shots, although it proved a more successful day for the South African leader.

Beth Allen during her second round at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open. The defending champion missed the cut by six shots. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Beth Allen during her second round at the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open. The defending champion missed the cut by six shots. Francois Nel / Getty Images

Beth Allen lamented her “terrible” defence of the Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Open after missing the halfway cut as Lee-Anne Pace maintained her one shot advantage at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club on Thursday.

American Allen, who won last year’s inaugural event by three shots, carded a second round 76 to go with her opening round 73. Her five-over par score means she missed the cut by six shots.

“What a world class event here at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club for FBMLO. Gutted to have put up such a terrible defense. #nextyear”,” tweeted Allen, the 2016 Ladies European Tour (LET) Order of Merit winner.

It proved a more successful day for Pace, who followed up a first round 66 with an identical score to sit on 12-under, although her second round was bogey-free.

With two birdies on the front nine and four on the back, Pace continued her fine form in Abu Dhabi.

“It feels great and I remembered the course better today,” the South African said. “I think there was less wind and it was a favourable wind as well. I struck the ball really nicely too. I hit the shots I wanted to hit and I hit it really close to the pin and made the putts.

“Tomorrow I’d like to start the way I did today, and be a bit patient, as patience helps you to do a lot. I had some chances which I didn’t take but in the end I’m pretty satisfied.”

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After the first round, Pace was being chased by a six-player group all one shot back. That group has been reduced to one, with Indian teenager Aditi Ashok matching Pace’s bogey-free six-under par round.

“I feel I’m hitting the ball well although I missed a couple of drives, but apart from that I struck it pretty well,” Ashok, 19, said.

“My putting was pretty good too so I’m happy. Still bogie free and everyone is mentioning it. I’m just focusing on hitting the fairways and let the birdies happen.

Lee-Anne Pace shot a flawless six-under par 66 to lead the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open at the halfway stage. Francois Nel / Getty Images
Lee-Anne Pace shot a flawless six-under par 66 to lead the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open at the halfway stage. Francois Nel / Getty Images

“Once you get there on two shots then it is pretty much four birdies in your round, and today I think some of the pins were easier. So maybe that’s why lots of low scores.”

Among the group of three players two shots behind Ashok is Luno Sobron, who set a new course record of 62, beating the previous record of 64 held by Allen and Britain’s Georgia Hall.

Remarkably, her round included a bogey on the sixth hole, but that was offset by nine birdies and an eagle on the par-five 15th. The Spaniard’s 10-under par round catapulted her from joint-76th to joint-third.

Sobron, 23, is a winner of three professional titles this year, including two events on the Spanish Santander Tour and the Castellum Ladies Open in Sweden on the LET Access Series.

“It’s a good year and I’m feeling very confident,” said Sobron, who could move into first position on the LET Rookie Rankings this weekend.

Joining Sobron in joint third are Camilla Lennarth of Sweden and American Cheyenne Woods, niece of golfing great Tiger Woods.

Woods made a flying start to her round and was four-under for the day after six holes, thanks to birdies on the second and fourth holes, and her first professional hole-in-one on the par-three sixth.

Another birdie followed on the 11th before a bogey on the 14th checked her progress. However, a further two birdies on the final three holes ensured a round of 66 to keep her firmly in contention.