Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall lists Australia as her favourite place to visit and no wonder – she looks right at home.
Hedwall charged to the lead of the women’s Australian Open at Victoria Golf Club with a round of 65 on Friday that included a hole-in-one.
In her professional debut in 2011 Hedwall won the NSW Open and then again last year, and now has her sights set on the national title.
The world No.21 carded seven under on the par 72 course to sit at 11 under at the halfway mark.
She leads Norway’s first round leader, world No.2 Suzann Pettersen by one while Australian amateur Miljee Lee is a shot further back at nine under.
Lee, 17, proved that her runner-up finish at last week’s Australian Ladies Masters on the Golf Coast was no fluke with an eagle and three birdies in her 67.
Another Swede Anna Nerviest set a new women’s course record with her 64 to be eight under at the halfway mark.
Hedwall aced the par three 16th, although she wasn’t aware of the accomplishment until she reached the hole.
“I couldn’t see it and I think the crowd didn’t want to yell because Laura (Davies) was hitting off on number 17, so we walked up there and they were like, it went in.
“I was like, `oh, nice’.”
Key to Hedwall’s game is her power, matching one of the tour’s best in Pettersen with her length.
She said she honed that skill by trying to outdriven her twin sister Jacqueline, who is also an accomplished golfer, when they were young.
“I’ve always been swinging it hard,” Hedwall said.
“We were competing against each other hitting it the furthest on the driving range.
“I’ve always been very explosive, which I see as a great talent.”
Hedwall finished tied for third at one of the women’s majors, the Kraft Nabisco last year, but her biggest achievement was at the Solheim Cup when she became the first ever player to win five matches in a single competition, helping lead Team Europe to a surprising 18-10 win.
While she lauded the courses, people and weather, Hedwall found one thing in Australia she didn’t like.
“I was quite annoyed with the flies actually, there are a lot of them out there.”
Lee, who only finished school in Perth last year, was all smiles after her stunning showing.
After losing at Royal Pines to American Cheyenne Woods she was asked if she had thought about winning.
“No, I’m just going to play how I play and if I can get close then good,” Lee said.
Of the other locals, another West Australian Jessica Speechley is at six under after a second round 67, a shot ahead of Sydney’s Sarah Kemp.
Karrie Webb, Sarah Jane Smith and Nikki Campbell are four under for the tournament.