Dubai: Germany’s Esther Henseleit admits to being obsessed with tennis, skiing and going to the gym, but it’s her other interest, golf, that’s helping her make a name for herself on the Ladies European Tour (LET).
A student of Sports Management, Henseleit exhibited her extraordinary golfing maturity when firing a six-under-par 66 to grab a share of the clubhouse lead at the end of the second round of an increasingly competitive Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic on Thursday, the world’s first day-night golf tournament.
Tied with the German on a two-round aggregate score of nine-under-par was the reigning LET No. 1 Nuria Iturrios from Spain who signed her card for a 68.
The unlikely pair were one shot clear of Germany’s Olivia Cowan who shot a 70, while overnight leader Leona Maguire from Ireland dropped to three strokes further back after a trouble second round of 75 in stifling daytime conditions.
It’s been only five months since Henseleit turned professional but the golfing prodigy, who began playing the game as an eight-year-old with her mother, is already turning heads on the world’s famous golf courses.
Currently ranked sixth on the LET order of merit after four top-10 finishes from five starts this season, Henseleit is looking to win her first professional title in only her sixth tournament.
“It would mean everything,” she said. “I think everyone wants to win and to do this in your first year is really good, but there is still one day to go and I’m not thinking of the win.
“I want to do my best and see what happens tomorrow.”
Had she not put her tee shot on the Faldo course’ tricky par-3 17th, the hole selected for the BMW hole-in-one contest, where she then scrambled a three-put, Henseleit would have carried a significant psychological advantage into Friday’s championship round.
Iturrios, who claimed her second Lalla Meryem Cup title last week to go to the top of the order of merit, said she was also enjoyed thrilled to be part of the world’s first day-night golf experiment.
“It was so cool yesterday and I loved it,” said the 23-year-old. “It’s so weird, it was my first time playing at night. I just trusted in my game and I trusted where the ball went, so I’ll keep going.”
Commenting on her chances of winning back-to-back titles on the tour, she added: “It would be awesome, of course, but there’s still 18 holes to play and you never know. It’s golf, so I want to enjoy it.”
Cowan, another 23-year-old talent from Hamburg putted for four birdies in her second round 70, said the heat was a factor but it did not throw her off course.
“It was really hot today, so it was a bit different from yesterday,” she remarked. “I played really well, again. I made a few stupid mistakes, which cost me a bit, but otherwise I’m happy with the day.
“Yesterday was a lot cooler and it’s probably better to start in the afternoon, actually, because the first hour, it’s quite hot, but then it cools down pretty quickly. Today it was really hot from 8.30am in the morning, but it was a really nice day.
“It would mean the world [to win]. It would be amazing. I’ve been close a few times and I’m just waiting for that one little step. It would be amazing, here in Dubai, with my sponsors.”
Maguire, the overnight leader, admitted that she needed to raise her game on Friday if she hoped to compete for the title.
“I didn’t give myself many chances today,” the Irish played admitted. “On seven, I wanted to hit 7-wood, my caddie wanted me to hit an iron and I hit an iron in the water, which was quite annoying to finish with.
“I didn’t give myself enough chances and didn’t hole any putts, so no birdies today. I need to play a lot better tomorrow and hit my irons better to give myself some more chances.”
1 E Henseleit (GER) -9
1 N Iturrios (ESP) -9
3 O Cowan (GER) -8
4 K Lampert (GER) -6
5 L Maguire (IRL) -5
6 K Preedasuttijit (THA) -4
6 C Hedwall (SWE) -4
6 N Komulainen (FIN) -4
9 H Burke (ENG) ENG -3
9 M Skarpnord (NOR) -3