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Strauss leads by four as she homes in on season finale spot

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 03: Bertine Strauss during day 2 of the 2016 SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Huddle Park Golf Course on March 03, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. EDITOR'S NOTE: For free editorial use. Not available for sale. No commercial usage. (Photo by Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

Bertine Strauss is 18 holes away from a guaranteed spot in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies season finale next week after extending her lead in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge on Thursday.
After blistering the Huddle Park golf course in 64 strokes in round one, Strauss notched only three gains on moving day, but another flawless display moved the 24-year-old Koster golfer to 11-under-par 133.
Strauss leads by four from closest challenger Ashleigh Simon, whose expected charge derailed early on with bogeys at two and three.
The four-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion rallied with birdies at seven, nine, 10 and 11 for a 70, though, which was good enough to reclaim second on the 36-hole leaderboard.
Melissa Eaton and fellow rookie Carrie Park lag six off the pace after respective rounds of 70 and 71.
Stacy Bregman – another four-time winner on the local circuit – fired a four under 68 to post the low round of the day and rose six spots to eighth on 141.
Strauss birdied both par fives on the front nine and interrupted a run of straight pars on the back nine with a lone birdie at the par four 12th.
‘I was pleased to finish in red numbers and I didn’t lose any ground,’ said Strauss, who is gunning for a second successive Sunshine Ladies Tour title after her Sun International Ladies Challenge victory last week.
‘The difference was that I hit it a lot closer on day one and the putts dropped. I didn’t take advantage of all the par fives today and I left a few birdie chances short. A 69 was probably the worst I could have shot, I kept my lead and that’s really all that matters.’
Simon three-putted the second and left herself short of the green with her approach and couldn’t up-and-down to save par at the third, but she turned things around to stay in the mix.
‘I didn’t hit the ball well, but I got it around and I’m happy that I finished under par,’ she said. ‘I made some good birdies and a great par-save at 14 after hitting it in the water. Given how I was striking the ball, I’m really happy that I am still chasing Bertine.’
Meanwhile rookie Lejan Lewthwaite will be keeping a very close eye on the final round leaderboard.
The No9 ranked player joined the bus at eight over with rounds of 79 and 73 and her top 10 ranking could come under serious threat from Kim Williams or Maria Beautell from Spain.
Williams is 11th in the current Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Points Standings, but at four over, she will have to shoot the lights to out gain enough ground to lift Lewthwaite.
Beautell, however, is 13th with 561 points. Although she needs to finish third to gain the 200 points needed to beat Lewthwaite’s 713 points, the Access Tour winner will start the final round in joint fifth on 140. A recent third place finish in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge showed that Beautell has the game to get the job done.
If Lewthwaite hopes to challenge for a share of the R1-million Bonus Pool at Millvale Private Retreat next week, the Benoni golfer will have minimise her mistakes and aim for a clean card, or her Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies bid could tank on Friday.

Picture of Strauss and caddie Wian Faber courtesy of Sunshine Ladies Tour

SECOND ROUND LEADERBOARD

133 – Bertine Strauss 64 69
137 – Ashleigh Simon 67 70
139 – Melissa Eaton 69 70, Carrie Park KOR 68 71
140 – Maria Beautell ESP 71 69, Cecilie Lundgreen NOR 70 70, Nicole Garcia 69 71
141 – Stacy Bregman 73 68
144 – Monja Richards 75 69, Monique Smit 73 71, Emma Goddard ENG 71 73
145 – Agathe Sauzon FRA 74 71, Nobuhle Dlamini SWZ 73 72
146 – Laurette Maritz 74 72, Alexandra Lennartsson SWE 74 72, Crizelda van Niekerk 72 74, Bonita Bredenhann NAM 70 76, Kelsey Nicholas (AMA) 70 76
147 – Chiara Contomathios (AMA) 74 73, Rebecca Hudson ENG 75 72, Michelle Leigh 76 71, Tandi von Ruben 77 70, Elisabetta Bertini ITA 72 75
148 – Kim Williams 71 77
149 – Amy Henning 74 75, Lauren Blease ENG 76 73
150 – Francesca Cuturi 73 77, Hanna Roos SWE 73 77, Mae Cornforth 77 73
152 – Maria Roos SWE 74 78, Sarah Blythe-Wood ZIM 77 75, Larissa Du Preez (AMA) 78 74, Tijana Kraljevic 79 73, Lejan Lewthwaite 79 73
153 – Carmia van Wyk 74 79, Kirsty Fisher ENG 76 77
154 – Alana van Greuning 77 77, Michelle de Vries 79 75
156 – Elina Bergvall SWE 79 77
160 – Caitlyn Macnab (AMA) 79 81
161 – Marguerite Pienaar 82 79
163 – Leanda Schulze 81 82
170 – Kim de Klerk (AMA) 81 89


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