Ferguson, Doherty carry leads at joint event

Golf

BALLYMENA, Northern Ireland — Ewen Ferguson of Scotland followed up his big opening round with an even-par 70, but it kept him in the lead at the ISPS Handa World Invitational on Friday.

Ferguson carded a course-record 61 on Thursday at Galgorm Castle, one of two courses used for the event that features men’s and women’s tournaments taking place simultaneously. Amanda Doherty of the United States kept her lead in the women’s tournament after her 5-under 67 at Massereene.

The 26-year-old Ferguson, in search of his second European Tour victory, remained at 9 under overall after Friday’s round at Massereene Golf Club. Borja Virto of Spain was one shot back after his 67.

“[I] missed a couple of the putts that I’ve kind of been making yesterday to keep my round going,” Ferguson said. “Good putts, but just kind of lipping out, and yesterday they were kind of lipping in. You walk onto the next tee when they lip in, you feel amazing. When you walk on the next tee and they lip out, you feel a bit flatter.”

Italy’s Filippo Celli (67), who won the silver medal as leading amateur at The Open last month, was two strokes off the lead alongside Felix Palson (68) of Sweden.

The tournament is tri-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour and the LPGA Tour. The men and women play from different tees and compete separately, with two equal prize funds of $1.5 million each.

At 11 under overall, Doherty is one shot ahead of compatriot Lauren Coughlin and Dane Emily Kristine Pedersen. The 24-year-old Doherty recorded five birdies on her front nine.

“Putts were going in today,” she said. “I was hitting the ball well to get it close enough for them to go in, but they were just falling in and that was definitely the best part of my game on the front nine.”

Georgia Hall of England made a hole-in-one on the par-3 third in her round of 69 at Massereene. She is three shots off the lead.

“I couldn’t really see it, but I think it pitched a few yards short, spun and then rolled in nicely,” Hall said.

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