30 Mar 2024 | Professional golf | Tournaments | Golf Australia | Women and girls |

Uribe clear at the top on the Central Coast

by Jimmy Emanuel

Colombia's Mariajo Uribe.

Mariajo Uribe may be planning for life after golf, yet the Colombian LPGA veteran’s game certainly hasn’t left her, as shown by her three shot lead at the Women’s NSW Open with 18 holes to play.

Set to retire from the professional game after the Paris Olympics, Uribe fired a bogey-free round of 65 on Saturday, her 12-under total good for a three shot lead over Peiying Tsai of Chinese Taipei.

First round leader Justice Bosio and Bronte Law, who managed a second round hole-in-one, another shot back on eight-under after two days at Magenta Shores Golf & Country Club.

“I think I did better, less birdies today, but less mistakes, so that’s nice. I am getting to know the course better, so we will see,” Uribe said after the round.

Noting that being too hard on herself and potentially having too much fun on the golf course has been an issue in the past, Uribe’s lead could have been larger after a brilliant approach to the par-4 18th.

Faced with just seven feet for a third consecutive birdie, and eighth overall, the Colombian missed on the low side to give the chasing pack some hope that the 34-year-old wasn’t out of reach.

“It’s just hard because they are slow because some of them are so slopey. Once you get that putt it is a short putt that breaks a lot,” she said.

“I didn’t want to leave myself a really hard one coming back. Missed that putt, it sucks a little bit, but made some good ones coming in, so I am happy."

Chasing her first win since 2011, Uribe’s ball striking was a feature of her second round, so too that of Tsai, who heated up in the middle of the round to make five birdies in a row from the 9th hole.

Bogeying the par-4 last, Tsai, like Uribe, spoke of a different wind to the first day and a simple approach to the third round when she will chase her first win since victories in Japan and Thailand two years ago.

“Do same thing I did today, enjoy. Have fun,” Tsai said.

With low scores on offer, the fun of the final group will be measured with a wariness of what is happening in front. The leader’s recent work with a psychologist perhaps her key to finally ending her winless drought and elevating her on the rankings towards her goal of a Paris retirement party.

“I usually have too much fun,” Uribe said with a laugh.

“I work with a psychologist, a new one, they did some measurements like a month ago, we kind of saw some things. I know myself pretty well, but sometimes you just forget when you have been doing it for so long. Just going back to basics the last two weeks, and it has been working.”

Also working was Law’s iron game during the afternoon, when the wind picked up during the middle of her round and her ball striking showed up. Her ace at the 131 metre 13th coming with an 8-iron.

“I actually don’t know, I think maybe nine or 10,” Law said when asked how many holes-in-one she has in her career.

“My favourite number is seven, so when I got to seven, I was really happy and stopped really paying attention … it’s definitely my first in Australia.”

Seeking a first win in Australia, the LPGA Tour winner won’t be focusing on Uribe and Tsai in the final group, with the 2024 Lalla Meryem Cup winner looking to balance the need for birdies with strategic decisions around Magenta Shores.

“Just kind of try and push as hard as I can within reason,” she said.

“There’s a fine line between pushing and playing smart, aggressive golf. My goal tomorrow will be to play smart, aggressive golf and give it a good run.”

Missing out on the final three ball, Bosio will enjoy a slightly less nerve filled challenge for the Jan Stephenson trophy after finding herself on the television coverage for the entirety of a one-under second round.

Bogeying the first, the Queensland amateur steadied with impressive up-and-down pars at the 5th and 10th. Birdies at 9 and 11 helping to keep her chances of a potentially career changing win alive.

“I was nervous, but it is always good if you’re nervous,” Bosio said.

“That’s what we play for, we play for being nervous and being in contention, you’ve just got to learn to live with it.”

One back of Bosio and Law are Spain’s Marta Martin and Slovenia Ana Belac, with seven players at five-under, all of whom will need a low round and some help from Uribe.

“This course you can go so low that it doesn’t really matter where you are standing for tomorrow,” the two-time Olympian said.

“Someone can come from behind and make a bunch of birdies, so I am going to keep playing my game.”

The second and third rounds will be shown LIVE on Fox Sports, KAYO and 7plus from 12:30pm AEDT.

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