Catriona Matthew and Carly Booth will be watching for birdies in Ayrshire

Scotland's Carly Booth, who carded one of the best rounds of the day, waits to tee off at the 18th. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA
Scotland's Carly Booth, who carded one of the best rounds of the day, waits to tee off at the 18th. Picture: Ian Rutherford/PA
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Lothians star Catriona Matthew is hoping to pack a “punch” as she bids to climb up the leaderboard in the final two rounds of the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.

The 47-year-old joined Carly Booth and Sally Watson in making it to the weekend in the £1.2 million event at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire, where American ace Cristie Kerr leads the way.

Matthew is nine shots off the pace after failing to bag a birdie in a second successive 74 in windy conditions on the Ayrshire coast. But, with the tough test set to continue, the North Berwick woman is feeling quietly confident she can still get in the mix for a third title triumph in the event.

“I’ve been hitting my punch shots really well,” said the 2011 and 2013 winner at Archerfield Links. “Hopefully that will continue over the weekend.”

For the second day running, the Scottish No.1 didn’t hole anything of note on the greens, so is hoping for a change of luck might be on the way.

“I played well again today but just had no birdies, which makes it tough,” she added. “I had a lot of chances, actually, but just couldn’t quite get it in the hole. Hopefully I’ll hole some at the weekend.”

Just 17 players out of 156 broke par in the second round and only six sit under par after two rounds on a course playing around 1,000 yards shorter than the one for the men’s Scottish Open here a fortnight ago.

“I think this is worse weather we’ve ever had for this event,” observed Matthew, who is no stranger to tough conditions, of course, even though she is more used to playing in decent weather these days on the LPGA. “It’s certainly the windiest conditions we’ve had.”

Booth, who also lifted this title at Archerfield Links in between Matthew’s brace, carded one of the best rounds of the day – a 70 – to sit joint-11th on one-over.

“This morning was crazy windy,” said the 25-year-old from Perthshire. “I played really solid golf tee to green and I played solid yesterday, too. But, after having 35 putts yesterday, I had just 27 today, so that’s the difference. I started off on Thursday by missing some five-footers (she was four-over after four holes) and, when that happens, you just don’t get the confidence in your round, you’re always pushing or trying too hard.

“So, today it was just about being confident, getting into a quick rhythm and sticking to it all the way.”

Two-time major winner Kerr swapped places with Australian Karrie Webb at the top of the leaderboard after a 73, the 39-year-old using all her experience to salvage that after being four-over for the day with six to play. “I didn’t hit it that great today, but my caddie and I managed the golf course well, and we made the recovery shots when we needed to,” said the US Solheim Cup star.

Webb, a seven-time major winner, is a shot back after a finishing bogey-bogey for a 75, with Korean duo Sei Young Kim and Sun Young Yoo sitting joint-third on three-under.

“I fought really hard to be just one-over with two to go, but then made couple of bad swings that resulted in a couple of bad tee shots,” said Webb of her disappointing sign off.

“But, if you had given me four-under before I teed off yesterday, I would have taken it. It’s only Friday night so there’s a long way to go, but any time you have a chance to win is special.”

Watson joined Booth and Matthew in the final two rounds after showing guts to bounce back from her opening 79 with a battling 70, having set that up by racing to the turn in four-under 32.

But Musselburgh’s Vikki Laing missed the cut after disappointing rounds of 83 and 80.