amateur golf
amateur golf


France's Solheim Cup star Patricia Meunier-Lebouc is back on home soil bidding to retain the Ladies French Open at Arras GC in Northern France starting on Thursday. But the 28-year-old from Dijon, who returns from a sojourn on the LPGA, will face tough
opposition this week from a strong field in the 180,000 event.

Meunier-Lebouc, who won twice last year on Tour, has good company for the first two days, drawn with fellow Solheim Cup winner, Spain's Raquel Carriedo and rising Spanish star Paula Marti.

The French welcomed their Solheim heroine back home by plastering pictures
of her around the Arras clubhouse, on lampposts, billboards and even in the
town centre - it didn't go un-noticed.

"It's great to be back in my country and especially as defending champion,"
said Meunier-Lebouc, who has husband Antoine on the bag again this week.

"When I saw all the pictures all over the clubhouse and everywhere else, it gave me goose-pimples - so that brought back some fantastic memories.

"I am playing OK right now and I obviously enjoy the course. I am looking forward to the week. The course is in great condition, especially after all the rain we have had during this winter."

Carriedo, who shared second place behind Meunier-Lebouc last year, is
determined to return to the winners' circle soon after finishing runner up for the seventh time on Tour at last month's La Perla Italian Open.

But the 30-year-old from Zaragoza admitted that she was tired and jet-lagged
after playing in the US Women's Open in North Carolina last week.

"I am still very tired from last week," said Carriedo. "The conditions were very tough out there with narrow fairways and deep rough and the whole week was very testing.

"It is always a good test to play those events, but it is nice to be back playing some normal golf," she quipped.

Marti, the winner in Italy, is growing in confidence and hopes that she can add to her maiden title this week.

"I am playing pretty good right now," said the 21-year-old from Barcelona. "I played in the US Women's Open last week and I struggled a bit, but I put that down to nerves. But I think I have got my swing back and today I played

"I am very comfortable with my game right now and having a full time caddie
really helps too.

"The course is great and I think it suits my game," she added.

Britain has a strong contingent this week with Bristol's Trish Johnson fully
recovered from a niggling tennis elbow injury. Joining her is Chorley's Lora
Fairclough, who finished seventh in Italy alongside Clitheroe's Kirsty Taylor.

And Sunningdale's Samantha Head, winner of the Nedbank Mastercard SA Open in March is confident of a good week, borrowing a caddie from her boyfriend
Ignacio Garrido.

Making her professional debut on European soil is Wales' Becky Morgan, returning to her home Tour after a successful start to her rookie season on the LPGA.

The 27-year-old former Curtis Cup player from Abergeveny impressed everyone
when she carded a seventh place finish in the Longs Drugs Challenge in April, finishing just five shots back from Korea's Se Ri Pak.

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