amateur golf
amateur golf


The lead changed hands quicker than a hot potato
during the third round of the 163,000 Ladies French at Arras GC in Northern France with local favourite Karine Icher taking control on eight under par, one shot clear of Italy's Giulia Sergas and Wales' Becky Morgan.

Spain's Raquel Carriedo and Belgium's Valerie Van yckeghem moved into contention on five under par and Norway's Suzann Pettersen joined them after
a mixed bag two under par 70.

Icher, winner of the Tour qualifying school last year, carded a three under par 69 to overtake her playing partner Morgan, who carded a 70.

But the 22-year-old from Châteauroux admitted that her nerves played in her
during a shaky start to the day.

"I was very nervous out there, but on the back nine, I played my own game and tried not to think ahead," said Icher.

With a three-putt bogey at the second hole, the young French prospect slipped two shots behind Morgan, who had birdied the first. She redressed the balance with a birdie at the fourth, but bogeyed the ninth to turn in 37.

Her inward half was far more confident with birdies at the 11th, 13th, 15th and 17th to take control of a day when nobody seemed to want to hold the lead for longer than one hole.

"I am just trying to find a good feeling for tomorrow and take it a shot at a time," added Icher, who is playing her first professional event on home soil.

Playing partner Morgan played the steadiest of rounds, carding birdies at the first and eighth. Her only dropped shot of the day came at the 11th, where she missed the green right. But the Ross-on-Wye based player responded with a birdie two at the 123 yard 14th, punching a nine iron to two feet.

"I played a lot better on the front nine and just managed to get it round on the back nine, so I am pretty happy," said Morgan.

Her experience of playing on the LPGA helped with the local partisan French
crowds following Icher and Monnet in the group ahead, but the Welsh number
one took it all in her stride.

"I think playing on the LPGA has helped, I was thinking about that on the way round and it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.

"Tomorrow, I am just going to go out and play one hole at a time and whatever happens, happens - it would be nice to win," added Morgan, who has just qualified for the McDonald's Championship, the third major of the year.

"My plans for this year are to retain my cards on both Tours - a win would be great, but I hadn't really thought about it at the beginning of the year.

Sergas carded a four under 68, which included four birdies and the second of
three eagles in her group at the 451 yard fifth hole. The 22-year-old from Trieste knuckled down to business in search of her first Tour win and in true fiery Italian style, worked her way into contention.

"I played with two very good players today and I just concentrated on my game rather than who was in the lead," said the La Perla sponsored player.

"I just took it one shot at a time and I am going to do the same tomorrow."

Norwegian rookie Suzann Pettersen, playing in the same group as Sergas and
France's Marine Monnet, used her big hitting prowess to good effect over the
front nine as she stormed into the lead with an eagle and three birdies in the first seven holes.

But the tall 20-year-old from Oslo undid all the good work with consecutive bogies at the eighth and ninth. A birdie at the 11th helped the cause, but further errors at the par five 13th and the 358 yard 15th dropped her from the lead.

"My short game could have been a little better today," said Pettersen, last years World Amateur champion. "But I am still in there and tomorrow I am going to go out and attack."

Spain's Raquel Carriedo gave herself every chance of her second win of the year with a flawless 67. The 29-year-old from Zaragoza began the day at level par and flew out of the blocks with a birdie at the first hole.

The Solheim Cup star had taken two days to get used to the slower greens after playing in last week's Women's US Open and when her putter warmed up, she added another birdie at the 483 yard par five fourth, knocked a sand wedge into three feet at the seventh, and with a seven wood to six feet at the 183 yard eighth, she turned in four under.

With just a solitary birdie on the back nine, the Taiwan Ladies Open winner in March posted five under and is keen to repeat today's performance when it matters - on Sunday.

"I'm not short anymore," quipped Carriedo about her putting. "It was difficult on the greens over the last two days having to adjust from the US Open.

"I am looking forward to another win and I'm in good position to do it, if I play like today, I have every chance."

Van Ryckeghem put in a solid performance with a four under par 68 to move into contention for her first title since 1997 Sicilian Open.

The 25-year-old from Bruges, who narrowly missed a Solheim Cup spot last
year with two runners up finishes on Tour, admitted that she was playing like she should and it was about time she got back into the hunt for a win.

"That's more like it," she said after her 68. " I was a bit better on the greens today and I hope I can take that into tomorrow."

Sweden's Marlene Hedblom admitted she was inspired with the possibility of
getting into next week's Evian Masters and rocketed up the leaderboard with
the equal tournament best 66, including seven birdies.

"I am really happy with that - I had some luck on the 18th," giggled Hedblom, describing how she bounced a seven iron across the water on the last hole to set up a fortunate final birdie.

"A good round tomorrow will be nice - I am playing well right now and getting a spot in next week's Evian inspires me - I always think about that event, it's a great place."

Joining Hedblom is another rookie Australian Cherie Byrnes and compatriot
Corinne Dibnah. Byrnes, a 25-year-old from Nelson Bay reached six under par
before slipping back with a double bogey on the last hole.

But the glamorous Aussie, who is playing on a conditional Tour card, is confident of getting her full playing rights this year and finishing in the top 20 on the order of merit.


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