April 16, 2024

Women’s NSW Open RQ: Hall Back From The Brink

Lydia Hall nearly gave golf away three months ago.

Tomorrow the Welsh veteran will stand on the first tee at Dubbo Golf Club reinvigorated and a three-shot leader as she chases the fifth professional win of her career at the Women’s New South Wales Open regional qualifier.

Hall carded a bogey-free five-under-par 67, the class round on a hot and challenging day at Dubbo to leave a quality chasing pack in her wake.

Another veteran, Thai Saraporn Chamchoi is at two under, with a host of genuine hopes one shot further back including in-form pair Cecilia Cho and Emma Ash, winner and runner-up at Orange just last week.

Dubbo amateur Ella Murray will be the wildcard in the second-to-last group, with her home-course knowledge a large tactical advantage as the international field comes to terms with conditions different to previous events on the regional qualifying circuit.

Hall, a former Ladies British Masters champion on the LET, said she endured the worst form of her 17-year professional career in 2023.

“There was a point late last year when I was unsure whether or not I wanted to carry on playing,” she confessed after her round.

“But I just wanted to come back to Australia, I love playing here, spend time with my partner’s family (in Canberra) and enjoy Christmas.

“I wanted to get back to just the basics of golf and falling in love with it again, so I’ve started to do that and here I am … feeling it again.”

And almost inadvertently proving that point, with many of her younger peers visibly hot and flustered after their rounds, the 36-year-old looked as fresh as a daisy.

“I even carried my bag,” she said with a grin.

“It’s so much easier than pulling the trolley around that thick grass, so I’m feeling fresh and looking forward to it.”

Hall made birdies on the first and third holes after starting on the 18th but really found her groove early in the back nine.

“I drove it quite well and that’s the key to this golf course. I had some nice wedge numbers in that were comfortable and that’s my strong point,” she said.

“There were a couple of missed opportunities, but I’m not displeased.”

Chamchoi said she hit a “lot of fairways and greens”, but found her putter to be erratic in carding four birdies and two bogeys.

“I enjoy playing different courses … but I need to putt better tomorrow,” she said.

FULL LEADERBOARD

Perth’s Kathryn Norris, alongside Gold Coaster Sarah Yamaki Branch and Adelaide’s Ash the leading Aussies at one under, was also hot and cold.

Norris looked in strife after starting on the 16th and finding herself three over by the time she reached the fifth tee.

But the Mandurah ace caught fire late in her round with four birdies to rocket up the leaderboard.

Branch made one key error on the eighth that led to a double-bogey, but was otherwise exemplary.

But the biggest threat to Hall might well come from Cho, the former world No.1 amateur who’s been white hot in the past fortnight, winning in Wagga Wagga, at Duntryleague in Orange and even in the pro-am at Dubbo on Sunday.

Cho was wobbly early in her round today but also scythed through the field late as she found her range on the greens.

The final round begins tomorrow at 7:45 am and the final group is out at 10:05 am.

Streamed coverage will be available tomorrow at the Women’s NSW Open website and via the SEN app.

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