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CARRIEDO SNATCHES VICTORY AS ICHER PAYS THE PENALTY


On a dramatic final day at the 325,000 Compaq
Open, Spain's Raquel Carriedo emerged with the 48,750 first prize, firing a one under par 72 for an eight under par total, snatching a second career
victory in the cold, wet and windy conditions at Österåkers GC near Stockholm.

But it was France's Karine Icher who was denied winning in her Rookie season after being penalised a shot for slow play on the 11th hole, and ultimately
losing the title after a double bogey at the par three 17th. Icher closed
with a three over 76 to finish one shot back.

Sweden's Sophie Gustafson, who was tied with Carriedo at the start of the
final round, failed to mount a strong enough challenge after a one over par
74, having moved into contention with a blistering course record equalling
66 on Saturday.

Compatriot Liselotte Neumann tied in fourth spot on two under with Germany's
Elisabeth Esterl.

Spain's Paula Marti was a shot further back alongside Swede Carin Koch and
New Zealander Lynnette Brooky.

Icher, leading by six shots after two rounds, stumbled to a 76 on Saturday
reducing her lead to three. And she made the worst possible start with a bogey at the opening hole, while Carriedo lobbed in two opening birdies to share the lead on nine under.

But Icher responded with a birdie at the third to move back into the lead, and when Carriedo dropped consecutive shots at the eighth and ninth, Icher was in the driving seat heading into the back nine.

But the drama began at the eighth when Tournament Director Ian Randell informed the group they were out of position.

By the 11th, Icher and Gustafson had lost a clear hole and the French youngster received a bad timing and was penalised.

Icher, visibly rattled, proceeded to four putt and rack up a triple bogey, while playing partner Gustafson made birdie to throw the tournament wide open.

"I spoke to Karine and Sophie after they had driven from the eighth. They had fallen way behind the pair in front and I informed them they were out of position," said Randell shortly after the incident.

"Karine then took 96 seconds to hit her second shot at the 11th so I couldn't avoid handing out the penalty as she was 16 seconds over the time permitted."

But the Frenchwoman showed courage, responding with a birdie at the 14th to
move back into a two shot lead with Gustafson bogeying.

Carriedo, up ahead, was finding trouble from the tee and played the two best
shots of her day to keep her in the hunt.

A five iron from the fairway trap to 15 feet on the 15th saw her make an unlikely par, and with an eight iron from the bunker on the 16th fairway, she knocked it to 12 feet and rolled the putt in for an even unlikelier birdie.

Icher parred her way through the 16th, and with Gustafson adding another bogey at the 15th, Icher had a one shot advantage over Carriedo.

But Icher's dreams of a maiden win came to a soggy end as she pulled her
seven iron tee shot into the water in front of the 17th green.

Carriedo parred the last to claim the second win of her year, after the Ladies Taiwan Open in March.

"I was fighting all the way around and never gave up," said the 30-year-old from Zaragoza.

"And I was checking the leaderboard all the way around, which is something I
don't normally do, but after finishing runner up nine times, I thought I better change my approach - and it worked.

"But I feel so sorry for Karine the way she lost out, it's not the best thing to happen in the last round, but I am sure she will learn from the experience."

After wiping the tears away, Icher, who was spoken to about the pace of her
play on Saturday, was philosophical about the incident, but she believes that ultimately, it cost her.

"I know it's the rules," Said Icher, whose caddie, Jean-Michelle Neuville, lines her up on every shot.

"Unfair, no, because it is a rule. I know I'm not the fastest, but when there are a lot of people around and making noise and with the weather, in that situation, yes, I think it is a little unfair.

"But I will learn from it and now I will try and play faster."

The win consolidates Carriedo's position at the top of the Evian Tour order of merit with 8915 points, and she is now aiming to add the moneylist title also as she is currently just 25,998 behind current leader Maria Hjorth of Sweden.

 

 
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