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BATTLE OF THE ROOKIES AT PALMERSTON


Norway's Suzann Pettersen is in a confident mood as she heads into the final round of the EUR150,000
Palmerston Ladies German Open at the Sporting Club Berlin Faldo course, aiming for her second win in her rookie year.

Pettersen, who won the French Open in June, leads on five under par, one shot clear of fellow Tour rookie Karine Icher of France, who carded a three under par 69 in the benign conditions.

Four players are tied on one under par including England's Nicola Moult, New
Zealander Gina Scott, South African Laurette Maritz and Germany's Elisabeth
Esterl.

Pettersen, who is taught by Palmerston's Head professional Simon Holmes,
fired a blistering 67 to equal the course record set yesterday by Scotland's
Julie Forbes to move into contention for her second win of the year, and was
brimming with confidence after her round.

"Nobody is going to beat me around this course tomorrow," said Pettersen,
who does all her off-season practice here. "This is my course, I have played
it so many times from the men's back tees, and I am determined to win here."

The 20-year-old from Oslo, who carded a level par 72 yesterday, began her
day at the tenth with a bogey. But she repaired the damage with a birdie at
the next despite being in trouble from the tee.

More birdies followed at the 13th, firing a three iron to within an inch at
the 200 yard par three, and 15th, hitting a wedge to eight feet. Yet another
tap in followed at the 16th, but three putts at the 18th, her ninth, saw her
drop back to two under.

But with a flawless back nine of three under 33, rattling off a trio of birdies at sixth, seventh and the eighth, Pettersen, who won last years World amateur championship on this course, rose above her rookie rival
Icher.

"Before this tournament, I was miserable, but when I came here, I got a good
feeling and now it is getting better each day and now I am hitting it solid," added Pettersen, who had her coach Holmes on caddy duties this week.

"It's the first tournament we have worked together and it is very exciting for both of us. I really enjoy having him with me, we discuss shots and whenever I have a problem, I get instant feedback.

"My game is getting better and tomorrow is the day that matters."

Icher, who ultimately lost out on her maiden victory last week at the Compaq
Open after being penalised a penalty shot for slow play on the 11th hole in
the final round, changed her routine this week on the greens to avoid the
same thing happening again.

Starting on the tenth, the 22-year-old from Châteauroux birdied the par five, hitting a nine iron to three feet, following that with another at the 11th from the same distance.

And despite a bogey at the 12th, finding one of the deepest of the 133 fairway bunkers here, Icher bounced back with two more birdies at the 15th and 18th to turn in 33.

In true Faldo fashion, Icher, who was instrumental in the French team victory here last year, carded nine straight pars on the back nine of the six times major winner's course.

"I have changed my routine," said Icher after her round. "It's faster on the green now because I look at my line before the other players have putted.

"Tomorrow, I hope for the same," she added, hoping that another 69 would be
enough to see her become the third Rookie to win this year on Tour after
Pettersen and Spain's Paula Marti, twice a winner.

Moult had a blistering round going with six birdies in her first 12 holes to move her into a tie with Icher at four under. But the 29-year-old from Sutton Coldfield, who is the only player on Tour to use the long putter, dropped three shots in her final four holes to drop back to one under.

"I have been working hard on my game this year," said Moult. "I have had a couple of good finishes and I hope I can play well enough tomorrow to have the chance of a win."

Esterl, looking for her maiden win on Tour carded four birdies in her round, but two bogies and a double bogey at the 17th left her with a level par 72.

Maritz, who hasn't won on Tour since the 1990 Laing Charity Classic, was steadier with four birdies and a solitary bogey in her three under 69. And Scott, who secured her maiden victory in the 1664 Chart Hills Classic last year, also returned a 69 to move within four of the lead.

Bad news for first round leader Julie Forbes, the 35-year-old from Aboyne crashed to a seven over par 79 for a two over par total, but made the cut, which fell at eight over, with ease.

 

 
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