Marbella, Spain: India's Aditi Ashok played her best-ever round as a professional with a flawless five-under 67 that saw her zoom into top five at the end of second round of the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de Espana Femenino golf tournament, here on Friday.
Aditi with rounds of 74 and 67 is now three-under 141.
At the time of reporting, Aditi, who won the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School and recorded her first top 10 finish in a LET event last fortnight, was lying tied third and was three shots behind the leader, Spaniard Azahara Munoz (72-66).
Munoz finished birdie-birdie and had seven birdies and one bogey.
Two shots behind Munoz at four-under is Scot Pamela Prestwell (72 and four-under through 16 holes).
Aditi was elated about her round and said, "It was good. I started on the back nine. I played the back nine bogey-free yesterday and had one bogey, so I had a good feeling about the back nine. I made three birdies on the back nine and that helped me to get some momentum for the round.
"On the front nine I created a lot of chances but I made only a couple. I could have made two or three more but I'm happy with a 67."
Speaking about lying close to the leader, she added: "After two days, this is not a bad place to be. It's right where I want to be. I have two more days. The last two days I've got to know the golf course a lot better, so I'm sure that will help over the next two days and we'll see how it goes."
"I missed a couple of fairways but they were not far off, so I think that was the most improved part today. Yesterday I missed six or seven fairways but today I just missed one on 18 and I hit the water, so here if you miss the fairway you are looking at a bogey. It's a tricky course. Hitting the fairways helped," she added.
Aditi was in a zone of sorts and she made a par despite going into water for a penalty on 18th.
"I hit it in the water and I had to take a penalty drop. Then I hit a 3-hybrid to 15 feet and made the putt. I was pretty much looking at bogey. That was the only time I wasn't sure of making par, so it helped keep it bogey-free. I hit the hybrid about 185 yards. It was my best recovery. I made a lot of good putts, especially on the eighth, which is a tricky green, but 18th was the key today," Aditi said.
It has been a tough course but Aditi has adjusted well.
"The course is not long but it's tough in the sense that the greens are really quick, so if you hit it on the wrong side of the pin, sometimes you have a four or five footer for par. That way it's tricky. Also the tee shots (are difficult), because the fairways are quite narrow," the Indian said.
The 18-year-old Aditi, who turned professional only at the start of this year, began the week with a round of two-over 74 that saw her place 47th at the end of the first round.
Starting her second round from the tenth, Aditi birdied the par-4 11th and then added two more with back-to-back gains on par-4 15th and par-5 16th. Taking the turn at three-under, she had already moved into red figures for the tournament erasing her two-over of the first day. She then birdied the par-5 first hole and added a fifth birdie of the day on par-3 eighth hole.
Alongside Aditi, England's Sophie Walker (70-71) and Angel Yin (70-71) have all finished with totals of three-under for 36 holes. Florentyna Parker and Beth Allen are also at three-under but have a couple of holes each to play.
Despite a superb day, there was a feeling that Aditi may have a left a couple of shots out there. After three bogeys on the front nine of the first day, Aditi is now bogey free for the last 27 holes.
This season Aditi has made four of the five cuts in regular Ladies European Tour events and also qualified for Olympics and Women's British Open.
Aditi is 43rd on the Order of Merit and third in race for the Rookie of the Year.
Yesterday, Aditi displayed a lot of calm to overcome a tough first nine to return with a card of two-over 73. She opened with a bogey and had two more to be three-over at the turn.
She showed great resilience to fight back with one birdie and no bogeys to give herself a chance to survive into the weekend.
On the opening day, Amelia Lewis of the United States shot a four-under-par 68 in hot and breezy conditions at Aloha Golf Club in Marbella to seize a one-stroke lead.