Gurugram: If Marianne Skarpnord had hammered her way to a share of the course record in the first round of the Hero Women’s Indian Open here on Friday, 28-year-old Michele Thomson ripped it up and threw it in the dustbin on Day II with an eight-under par round and a solid three-shot lead over the field on 134 (70-64) at the DLF Golf and Country Club here on Saturday.
Still sitting pretty as far as the home challenge is concerned was local lass Vani Kapoor, playing her seventh Women’s Indian Open in all, with a seven-under par two-day total of 137 alongside three others, while defending champion Aditi Ashok was a further three shots adrift on 140 and still holding out hope for a last-day charge up the leaderboard.
But the attention was all for Thomson, whose roller-coaster life has seen her lose a parent in her pre-teens, script success as a prodigy in her teens; and a shift in career to policewomen before a second shot at professional golf.
Thomson broke the existing record of 5-under set by Thai Kongkraphan Patchrajutar in 2015 by three shots.
Even as Thomson took the honours, Vani turned in a birdie-birdie finish late in the day. Teeing off on the back nine, she again took time to find her momentum as she turned in one-under.
On the second nine, the front stretch of the course, she bogeyed the first, but birdied four times on second, fourth, eighth and ninth. Tied with Vani were the French duo of Camille Chevalier (68-69) and Celine Boutier (71-66), and Australian Sarah Kemp (71-66).
Aditi had a mixed day with four birdies and two bogeys for a second straight 70 that took her to 4-under and dropped her from T-10 to T13. Gaurika Bishnoi, despite finding 16 greens in regulation, carded a 73 and was T26, down from her overnight T-10.
The only other Indian making the cut was amateur Pranavi Urs, who carded two-under 70 to be T-51.
Lurking in sixth place at 6-under 138 was Spaniard Carlota Ciganda (70-68), the highest-ranked player in the field. Six others, Titiya Pluckasataporn (71-68), Meghan MacLaren (69-70), Belen Mozo (74-65), Olivia Cowan (69-70), Klara Spilkova (69-70) and Lydia Hall (72-67) are one behind at 139 in T7.
Thomson first came to India as an amateur prodigy to play in Bengaluru at the 2007 Emaar-MGF Masters. She finished T-64. A decade later, she is back here with on a sponsor’s invite from Hero, for the Women’s Indian Open. Following an up and down career, she joined the police force.
Two years later she left the Police and worked in a pro shop including at Donald Trump’s course in Aberdeen.
“I came out of the police and worked in a pro shop and caddied and then decided that I needed to get back on tour. I started working at Donald Trump’s course in Aberdeen. I have met him, but only in passing.”
Said Vani, “I found a lot of greens, but was faced with a lot of downhill putts. I am not putting any pressure on myself and going one shot at a time. I am ready to take where my destiny takes me. If I play well I get a good finish and my LET card, or else I will keep working on it.”
In the morning, Rebecca Artis made amends for her first round 75 by going 10 better to 65. Also shooting a 7-under 65 was glamour girl Belen Mozo of Spain, while Australian Sarah Kemp and French golfer Celine Boutier carded 66 each.
The cut fell at 4-over 148 and 63 players, including amateur Pranavi, made the cut.