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Fuller and Holpfer lead on four-under

England’s Annabell Fuller and Austria’s Isabella Holpfer share the halfway lead on four-under par in the English women’s stroke play championship at Woodhall Spa.

They’ll be in the final group tomorrow, playing side by side – as they did last week in the British girls, in practice here at Woodhall Spa and in the first two rounds of the championship.

They’ve also had the same scores in this event, but in reverse order. Fuller (pictured top) opened with four-under 69 to share the first round lead and pulled off a fighting finish today, signing for level par 73 to stay at the top. Holpfer opened with 73 and added 69 today with a round which included six birdies as she put her approaches close to the pin.

The 16-year-old was in Europe’s winning team in the Junior Vagliano match against GB&I and is enjoying a good season. “Compared to last, it’s a lot better,” said Holpfer, who explained: “Last year I grew and I was hitting it all over the place!”

Fuller had an up-and-down round, which started with two bogeys, picked up momentum with a run of birdies in the middle then stalled temporarily with a double bogey six after she visited the trees on the 13th.

At that stage, the English U16 girls’ champion was trailing Holpfer by two shots, but she came straight back with a birdie on the 14th and another on the last where she got up and down from a greenside bunker. “I keep having rounds like that,” she laughed.

The leaders are two shots clear of English girls’ champion Bel Wardle (pictured left) and Gloucestershire’s Caley McGinty. A further stroke back on one-under is Scotland’s Shannon McWilliams while England’s Sophie Lamb (Clitheroe, Lancashire) and Ireland’s Paula Grant are both level par.

Wardle (Prestbury, Cheshire) is reaping the confidence boost she received when she won her girls’ title in the gales at Littlestone and proved to herself that she could cross the winning line.

She carded 70 today and commented: “I was just trying to move up the field so that I would be in one of the later groups tomorrow, to give myself the best chance of seeing if I can win.”

McGinty is also drawing on her experience of the girls’ championship, when she played her way into contention after two rounds but failed to capitalise on her position. “I think the experience will help me, I’m not going to try to over-think where I am. I’m just going to play it as it comes,” she said.

There was no surprises when McWilliam played her way into the mix with her second round 70. The 18-year-old has already been runner-up in the Scottish women’s open stroke play and in the Scottish girls’ championship – as well as leading the qualifiers at last week’s British girls’ championship.

After today’s second round the field was cut to the top 40 players and ties with 41 competitors qualifying to play tomorrow’s 36 holes.

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