Scarred Holmqvist stronger from adversity

TROON (United Kingdom) • Dani Holmqvist has suffered her fair share of scary moments - including being bitten by a black widow spider - but they served her well in battling brutal conditions to lead at the halfway stage of the Women's British Open.

The Swede shot a one-under 70 in Royal Troon's wind and rain to finish on 141, the only player under par and one ahead of American Austin Ernst (70) and German Sophia Popov (72).

The duo were a stroke ahead of a group that included two-time Major winner Lydia Ko. But Hinako Shibuno's title defence ended after the 21-year-old from Japan added a 78 to an opening 76 and comfortably missed the cut at 12 over.

In 2013, Holmqvist was bitten by a deadly black widow spider while competing in the Australian Open. Two years ago, she was thrown against a wall when a golf cart flipped over in China. The latter incident left her in serious pain and in need of medication to even play.

Now she wants to emulate 2016 men's British Open champion Henrik Stenson and become a Swedish winner of a Major title at Troon.

"It was really brutal out there," she said. "Throughout the first nine there were cross winds and driving rain. It was tough."

Annika Sorenstam was the last Swede to win the title at Lytham in 2003 and the former world No.1 has had a big influence on Holmqvist.

"We both come from Stockholm and she has always been a great role model," said the 32-year-old. "She used to come to national team get-togethers and I had a lot of one to one time with her. Everyone in Sweden looks up to her."

Ko, 23, won two Majors as a teenager but the last of her 15 LPGA victories was the 2018 Mediheal Championship.

"It was super tough out there," said the New Zealander. "But I played a really solid round. Now I just need to stay patient over the weekend."