Michele Thomson opened up a handy three-shot lead over the rest of the field while breaking the course record at the Hero Women’s Indian Open.
At the DLF Golf and Country Club, Thomson smashed the existing record of 5-under set by Thai Kongkraphan Patchrajutar in 2015 and by Marianne Skarpnord on Friday, by three shots.
Even as the focus was Thomson, India’s Vani Kapoor (69-68) finished birdie-birdie to get a share of the crowded second place at 7-under.
Vani, teeing off from the 10th, once again took time to find her momentum as she turned in one-under. On the second nine, the front stretch of the course, she bogeyed the first, but birdied four times on second, fourth, eighth and ninth.
Tied with Vani for the second place were three other players, French duo Camille Chevalier (68-69) and Celine Boutier (71-66) and Australian Sarah Kemp (71-66).
Lurking right behind them at 6-under 138 was Spaniard Carlota Ciganda (70-68). Six others Titiya Pluckasataporn (71-68), Meghan MacLaren (69-70), Belen Mozo (74-65), Olivia Cowan (69-70), Klara Spilkova (69-70) and Lydia Hall (72-67) are Tied-7th.
It was ten years ago that Thomson first came to India as a prodigious amateur to play in Bangalore at the Emaar-MGF Masters. She finished T-64.
A decade later, she is back here on the sponsor’s invite.
“I requested an invite after Abu Dhabi. Those 10 years in between are a story in itself – working in police, working in a pro shop and meeting Donald Trump, too,” she said.
The one-time prodigy, now 28, has seen it all. From losing her mother Eleanor at 11; to being a Scottish Amateur champion and making the Curtis Cup team, which she recalls was fun, because there were teammates to share the joy with.
She turned pro in 2009 and did begin fairly well if not spectacularly. However, after just ‘half a season’ or so, she gave it all up, because pro golf was “lonely”.
She joined the police and became a Beat Constable in Aberdeen. A little over two years later, she left the Police and worked in a pro shop and in the period from 2009 to 2013, she did not touch golf clubs.
She worked at Trump’s course in Aberdeen.
After quitting police, she worked in a Pro shop. One day watching golf on TV re-kindled her aspirations. “Working in the Police and watching difficult scenes put golf into perspective,” said Thomson.
Thomson came back as a full time pro in 2013. She played local events and some on LET Access. By 2015 she had a win in Spain and was eighth on LET Access Money List. A year later in 2016 she secured a full card for 2017, finishing fourth on LET Access.
Aditi Ashok had a mixed day with four birdies and two bogeys for a second straight 70 that took her to 4-under and dropped from T-10 to Tied-13th place. Gaurika Bishnoi, despite finding 16 greens in regulation, carded 73 and is lying T-26, down from overnight T-10.
Defending champion Aditi started with a bogey on tenth, but recovered with birdies on 13th and 15th and on the front side of the course, she dropped a shot on fifth, but birdied fourth and eighth. Three of her four birdies came from Par-5s, which are a big strength of the tall Indian.
The only other Indian making the cut was amateur Pranavi Urs, who has been playing alongside the pros on the domestic Tour. The Bangalore golfer, Pranavi carded two-under 70 with five birdies, one bogey and one double. Four of her birdies came on front nine and at 3-over 147, she was T-51.