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Ghilian wins LET Q-School

Belgium's Naima Ghilain fired a flawless final round five under par 67 for a seven under total to win the 2001 Evian Ladies European Tour qualifying school at Aroeira GC on the Costa de Caparica outside Lisbon.

Denmark's Karen-Margrethe Juul and Scotland's Tracey Craik tied for second place on four under par and Swedish Telia Tour winner Maria Boden finished in fourth place alone on three under.

And Italy's Monica Cosenza fired a final round 71 for fifth place to improve on her existing category 9 exemption, with Sweden's Johanna Westerberg carding a four under 68 to finish in sixth place.

Ghilain began shakily with some good par saves on the first four holes, but she rattled in three consecutive birdies from the eighth to move into the lead.

Further birdies followed at the 15th and 16th and despite missing opportunities at the closing two holes, the pint-sized player was ecstatic with her win.

"This is absolutely wonderful," said the 24-year-old from Brussels who had her father Eric on caddie duties this week.

"I was so stressed and tired standing on the first tee this morning and began quite slowly. But I got on the birdie train from the eighth hole and then I began to feel a little more comfortable.

"I am very happy and so relieved that it's over now. This week was a nervous, but great experience and I never thought this would happen. I can now call this my first victory as a professional and I'll be making quite a few phone calls tonight to my family and friends."

Juul, the 1997 British Amateur strokeplay champion, only made one slip up during her final round 67, a bogey at the final hole when she dumped her second shot into the water at the par five. But the six birdies she lobbed in beforehand assured her of her playing rights for 2002.

"I am definitely happy with that, except for dumping my second shot in the water," laughed the 25-year-old Chemical Engineering student from Esbjerg.

"I hit all 18 greens in regulation yesterday and couldn't make a putt at all. But today they came when I needed them. I was a bit more positive with them and that was all it needed."

The tall Dane only made the decision to turn professional after talking to her coach and mentor, Englishman James Petts.

"I had played as an amateur for ten years with the Danish Golf Union and I felt I needed a little more motivation, and after talking to James, he convinced me that I should try for my Tour card," she added.

"He was out here all week and was a great support and I am glad that I could do it in front of him today."

Boden, the 2002 Swedish Telia Tour winner, carded a faultless 69 to gain her Tour card at the first attempt and is determined to improve her game over the winter so that she can achieve a lifetime ambition of winning a European Tour event.

"I have found out this week that I have to work on my game more from 100 metres and closer, and to improve my putting," said the 23-year-old from Harnosand.

The Oklahoma State University player is planning on playing a full schedule on next year's Tour, but only after she takes her final five exams on anatomy and physiology at college.

"Once they are all over, I can't wait to get started. I want to get my game in top shape so I can hopefully achieve my lifetime ambition of winning an event on Tour," she added.

And Cosenza, the smallest player on Tour at just one metre and 45 centimetres, finished under par for the first time in a Tournament and gave her father, a teaching professional at Bari Alto GC, the present he wanted.

"I just wanted to do this for my father, it makes me very happy to finish under par for the first time and I hope I can do it next year when I play," said the 23-year-old.

Thirty-one players won their full playing rights on the 2001 Tour with the final day cut off point falling at seven over par. The consolation for those who narrowly missed out is a category ten exemption which will still allow them to play, based on this years entries and depending on each players individual ranking, would allow them up to 11 events to play in.


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