amateur golf
amateur golf


France's Karine Icher bounced back from the disappointment of last week's Compaq Open to win the EUR22,500 first prize in the Palmerston Ladies German Open with a dramatic finish at the Sporting Club Berlin Faldo course.

The 22-year-old from Châteauroux became the third Tour rookie to win this year firing a final round two under par 70 for a six under total to for a one shot victory over second round leader and fellow rookie Suzann Pettersen from Norway, who returned a level par 72.

England's Nicola Moult carded a three under 69 to move into third place, her
joint career best finish, and five players tied on two under, Germany's Elisabeth Esterl, Holland's Mette Hageman, New Zealander Gina Scott, Spain's
Marina Arruti, who fired a new course record 66, and promising German amateur Martina Eberl.

Pettersen, leading by one shot overnight was confident heading into the final round, saying that "nobody is going to beat me around this course tomorrow," after her second round 67.

But the 20-year-old from Oslo got off to the worst possible start with a double bogey at the opening hole, giving Icher the lead. Pettersen, winner of the French Open ahead of Icher in June, bounced back with a birdie at the fourth to level, and took a two shot lead when she birdied the seventh as the Frenchwoman bogeyed the eighth.

Moult got into the hunt with a trio of birdies from the fifth to eighth in search of her maiden win on Tour, but string of missed chances saw her par her way in, leaving her at four under par.

Pettersen's lead was reduced to one by the turn when Icher rolled in a 45 foot birdie putt at the ninth, and added another birdie at the 12th, hitting a nine iron to 18 feet, setting the stage for a thrilling finish.

The Norwegian took the lead once more with a birdie at the 14th, but Icher,
who has had four top tens this year, rallied as she fired a 6 iron to three feet at the tricky par three 17th to draw level.

And it would be Pettersen who would crumble at the final hole when she drove
into the right hand fairway bunker from the tee, as Icher found the middle of the fairway.

Forced to play out sideways, Pettersen saw the tournament slip from her grasp as Icher fired a seven iron to 12 feet at the last and safely two putted for her first Tour win.

"I am so happy now," said Icher after her disappointment of losing out last week when a slow play penalty ultimately cost her the title, won by Spain's Raquel Carriedo.

"This week, I tried to play a bit faster and it seemed to work. "I didn't play well on the front nine, but I was glad to get it going on the back nine - I never gave up. After last week, I was trying to regulate the pressure coming down the stretch this week, I was so disappointed after last week, so it's really nice to win so soon after."

Pettersen was distraught after her round, but was adamant that she meant what she said on Saturday night. "No, I don't regret it," said Pettersen, who won the World amateur championship on this course last year and does all of her off season practice here.

"I had a really good feeling all week as I know this course so well, and when it came down to the last hole, I missed one shot - that's it.I was close again, that's all I can say. Karine is a great player and she played better than me today and it's great for her to win at last, she deserves it."

And two course records were set in the final round when Spain's Marina Arruti bounced back from a shoulder injury last week to post a six under par 66 with seven birdies and a solitary bogey. Matching that was Sweden's Lisa Hed, who carded eight birdies and two dropped shots.

The result leaves the Bill Johnson Rookie of the year race wide open with two counting events left to play, the Ladies Irish Open and the Mexx Sport Open in Holland.

Pettersen, leading Icher by 1526 points on the order of merit, is taking next week off, which leaves the Frenchwoman and Spain's Paula Marti the chance to close the gap in what is sure to be an exciting finish.

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