Magenta Shores CC, March 29-31, 2024

Cho Leads as Ash Charges at Duntryleague RQ

Many challenged, most faded and by the end of a magnificent day for golf at Duntryleague, there were two standouts.

Former world No.1 amateur Cecilia Cho, then a Kiwi now a Korean, leads by one at the halfway point of the Women’s New South Wales Open regional qualifier in Orange.

Cho was the epitome of consistency as she churned out a stellar bogey-free six-under-par 66 which, for a long while, appeared as though it might make her a comfortable leader.

But late in the day, a genuine challenger arrived via a totally different method.

Sydney-based South Australian Emma Ash, playing with a new-found freedom in the second phase of her professional career, threw in a double-bogey and another bogey, but roared home with two of her six birdies and an eagle in her final three holes to post an entertaining 67.

Ash’s charge left a four-stroke gap back to third place, shared by Cook Islander Elmay Viking and promising Sydney amateur Rebecca Zhao at 71.

Cho, 29, broke a five-year drought in winning last week’s Wagga Wagga pro-am, the form of which has carried up the Olympic Highway with Ash having finished fourth.

“It’s nice to be back feeling like I’m playing good golf again,” said Cho, a multiple winner on the tough KLPGA tour and former world top-50 player.

“I only really scrambled today on the 18th (having started on the 13th) and I managed to make a par there and then took advantage of (that) momentum (with) birdies on the first and second.”

Ash, 31, lost a close friend and mentor recently and said playing golf had been put into a clearer perspective.

“I really enjoy the course and the tree-lined fairways suit me (and) help keep me contained because I can get a bit rogue sometimes,” Ash said.

“But even when I hit a bad drive on 18, I was really calm. I just remembered Pete was there with me and that golf isn’t the end of the world.”

Earlier in an entertaining day’s golf at Duntryleague, groupmates Breanna Gill and Steffi Vogel each made eagle on the ninth to vault to three under after just three holes, appearing set to overpower the course.

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But they faded as quickly as they rose, leaving Darcy Habgood and Lydia Hall in front and seemingly cruising.

Remarkably, all four of those women finished over par, demonstrating the punch that Duntryleague has to offer those who err, particularly off the tee.

The final group of the second round tees off at just after 10 am on Tuesday morning.

All the action will be broadcast via SEN App and on the Women’s NSW Open website from 10 AM.

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