Kruger keeps pace at Annika Invitational

South Africa’s Magda Kruger stayed within striking distance of the lead in the second round of the Annika Invitational Europe in Sweden on Thursday.

On a day when only 10 players in the field of 71 juniors could break par, the Gauteng North golfer followed an opening 70 with a four-over-par 74 to move to eighth on even-par 144. Kruger lags five shots behind 36-hole leader Celia Barquin from Spain, who carded a two under 70 to take the sole lead on five-under-par 139.

Joint first round co-leader Martina Edberg from Sweden slipped to fifth with a 73, while Kruger’s compatriot Bianca Theron improved four shots on her opening 82 to tie for 50th at 16 over 160.

Although the course is playing short by the South African team’s reckoning, the undulating greens at Landskrona Golf Club has been a real test for the players.

Kruger collected six birdies, but dropped eight shots, including a bogey at the first for a second consecutive day and double at the par-four ninth.

“On both days I pushed my first tee-shot right into some bushy trees,” the 16-year-old said. “From that angle it is almost impossible to stop the ball because there is quite a down slope.”

While the par fives are certain birdie propositions, a couple of wayward drives at two of the long holes cost Kruger at least three shots and she paid with a double bogey when her tee shot went out of bounds at the ninth.

“I hit my drive into high grass with a kind of thorny undergrowth at the 17th and had no choice but to chip it out backwards and that cost me another shot,” Kruger said. “It felt good, though, to birdie the 18th after going into the water there in the first round.”

Kruger struggled with her swing before the Swedish trip but put in a lot of hours with her coach, Llewellyn van Leeuwen, at the University of Pretoria’s HPC. “I feel like my swing is improving, but it’s not there yet. I just have to keep working at it until it works properly again.”

Meanwhile Theron from Boland continued to struggle with rhythm issues.

“I’m making too many wayward drives and that puts too much pressure on my approaches,” the country’s number one ranked junior said.

“I just can’t put my finger on what is going wrong, but I had a better round today. I am going to try my best to finish in the top half of the field. This is hardly the time you want to struggle with rhythm, but that is the nature of the game. You have to grin it and bear it. But to get this kind of experience is worth the battle.”

Both players will be campaigning in the Girls British Open Amateur next week and agreed that the chance to tee it up in two prestigious international junior golf championships is priceless.

“The local girls here can compete in all the international events in Europe because it’s just a quick trip for them, so they are so much more experienced at this level than us,” said Kruger.

“It’s a huge undertaking for us to come here and compete, so we can’t afford to get down about a bad round. We have to look at the whole experience and take everything we can learn for this experience.”

The Annika Invitational Europe, a world amateur ranking event, was founded by 10-time Major winner Annika Sorenstam last year and won by Swedish native, Linnea Strom.

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