Germanys Esterl Sets the Pace at Sun City


Although the incessant drizzle made conditions difficult and uncomfortable for the ladies contesting the Nedbank Mastercard South African Ladies Masters, Elisabeth Esterl still managed to fire a 3-under-par 69 today to take the lead into the third round.
The in-form German, who finished joint runner-up in Taiwan last week, tops the leaderboard on 5-under-par 139 after 36 holes. Despite the heavy rains that broke at her last two holes, she holed out from 50 feet at the eighth and from two feet at the ninth (her last hole), finishing with two birdies.
Esterl's round also featured a double bogey at the par-4 15th, where she had trouble to negotiate her way out of the thick and wet rough, that has hampered most of the players over the last two days. Her second bogey of the day came from a three-putt on the 6th.
Esterl finished three shots clear of first round leader, Paula Marti of Italy, and England's Samantha Head, second on the leader board. 'It was good, especially as it was tougher today as the rough was very wet. It's difficult to get your club through and if the grass gets between your club and the ball, it can easily close or open the face,' commented the petite blond.
'The course was also playing a bit longer today as there was little run off the tees. But the greens were also a little more receptive so it was easier to go for the flag,' 24-year-old from Dingolfing added.
'I'm not hitting the ball exceptional I'm just getting it round better. The putting is going well, which obviously makes all the difference. I'm using a new center-shafted See-More putter - the same as the one Payne Stewart used when he won the US Open.'
Cape Town's Barbara Pestana, past champion of the SA Women's Open and SA Ladies Masters carded the best round of the Southern African contenders today, posting an impressive 2-under-par 70 for a total score of 5-over-par 149.
Laurette Maritz played with the tournament leader today and carded a 1-over-par 73, with a 36-hole total of 147 going into the final round. The rest of the South Africans suffered at the hands of the rough and the weather, including last week's winner, Vanessa Smith who posted a 79 in her second round for a total of 19-over-par.
Today saw 12 players break par at the very wet Gary Player Country Club, with two eagles coming from France's Virginie Auffret on the par-4 5th hole and England's Suzanne Dickens on the par-5 14th. And
The second round cut was made at 10-over-par 154, leaving 61 participants in the field for tomorrow.