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Saturday, June 07, 2008


Defending champion Gwladys Nocera and Jade Schaeffer, both from France, tied for the first round lead on five-under-par 67 at the ABN AMRO Ladies Open in the Netherlands.
Both 33-year-old Nocera, seeking her seventh Ladies European Tour title, and second year Tour player Schaeffer, 21, piled up three birdies and an eagle at Eindhovensche Golf to lead by one over a group of six players.
Nocera, who now lives in Lausanne, Switzerland, said she felt comfortable at the venue after winning by seven shots there in 2007. She is hoping to continue the French success story, as the event has been won by a French player on seven of the 12 occasions that it has been staged since 1986.
Stephanie Arricau was the 2006 champion on the same golf course, while other previous French winners were Virginie Lagoutte-Clement (2005), Karine Icher (2001), Marie Laure de Lorenzi (1995 and 1988) and Valerie Michaud (1992).
“Of course I would like to win but in order to win I have to stay with what I’m doing and hit shot after shot,” said Nocera, who won the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open five weeks ago.
“There are some pretty long holes so you have to hit the ball far, which is good for me. You have some nice irons shots to hit into the green. I like this type of course. We have quite a few like this at home so I just feel comfortable here.”
A victory in this event would see Nocera, currently ranked second in Europe, leapfrog Amy Yang in the rankings to lead the LET’s New Star Money List. However Schaeffer, who like Nocera is a protégé of swing coach Olivier Leglise, is aiming for a maiden victory this week.
The Strasbourg-based player recorded her season best finish of tied 25th at last week’s HypoVereinsbank Ladies German Open in Munich, having shot a 66 in the first round. She said she played defensively en route to a 73 in the second round, which was not something she would plan on doing again.
“I’m very happy because it is similar to last week on the first day. Now I want another second day,” said the spirited Schaeffer, whose career best finish was third at last year’s Open de Portugal.
“I told you I wanted to play easy on the second day last week and tomorrow I will attack more. I don’t want to play defensively like last week. Last week I played very well the first day. I think it’s so bad because I played plus one last week when I hit 16 greens in regulation. I missed all of the putts: two putts on every hole.”
One shot back in a share of third on four-under-par 68 was England’s Melissa Reid, Ireland’s Rebecca Coakley, Italy’s Margherita Rigon, Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom and two further French players: Cassandra Kirkland and Anne-Lise Caudal.
Reid, playing in her first year on the Ladies European Tour, fired six birdies and two bogeys on a course she had played before the tournament week. The Derbyshire golfer was third at the MFS Women’s Australian Open at tied for tenth in Scotland but came into the week after two missed cuts.
“I think the last couple of weeks my mind hasn’t been totally focused on my golf. Now that’s been sorted and today I was just concentrating on one shot at a time,” said the 20-year-old. “There are two more rounds to go and there are plenty of birdies out there. I’ve just got to focus on one shot at a time and do the best I can.”
Reid, who has been working with rugby’s Sir Clive Woodward on bringing a more scientific approach to her golf, added that improvements to her putting had helped her scoring.
“I hit a couple close but took my birdie chances when I got them,” she said. “You can’t win it on the first day but putting myself up there gives me a good chance for the next couple of days. Hopefully I can improve on my score each day.”
Coakley, a fourth year LET player aiming for a maiden tour victory, posted a season best tie for 11th, with a career-low 63 in the first round, at the Deutsche Bank Ladies’ Swiss Open a fortnight ago. She was pleased to be coming into form ahead of the main leg of the summer season.
“It’s starting to come together,” said Coakley, Ireland’s leading player on the LET. “In Germany, I hit the ball alright but just didn’t score. Today I hit the ball good for the first nine and then a little average on the back nine but held it together and made a few birdies.”
Four players shared ninth place on three-under-par: four-time LET champion Lynn Brooky from New Zealand, Italy’s Sophie Sandolo, England’s Felicity Johnson and Paula Marti from Spain, who had two eagles in her opening round.
Par 72
67 G Nocera (Fra), J Schaeffer (Fra).
68 M Rigon (Ita), U Wikstrom (Fin), R Coakley (Ire), M Reid (Eng), A-L Caudal (Fra).
69 C Kirkland (Fra), L Brooky (NZ), S Croce (Ita), P Marti (Spa), S Sandolo (Ita).
70 J Westerberg (Swe), L Wahlin (Swe), F Johnson (Eng), C Boeljon (Net) (am), S Walker (Eng), I Maconi (Ita), C Queen (Sco), V Zorzi (Ita), E McKinnon (NZ).
Other scores:
71 J Morley (Eng), K S Taylor (Eng).
72 Lisa Hall (Eng).
73 H Kavanagh (Ire), C Grady (Eng), N C Booth (Eng), D Masters (Eng).
74 C Coughlan-Ryan (Ire), K Matharu (Eng), K Pritchard (Wal), L Kenny (Sco).
75 G Simpson (Eng), M Gillen (Ire).
76 E Lyons (Eng), J Clingan (Eng).
77 J Wilson (Sco), S Dickens (Eng).
78 C Hall (Eng), H Zuel (Eng).
79 K Imrie (Sco).
80 S Morgan (Eng).