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Ana-Belen Sanchez wins BMW Ladies Italian Open

Ana-Belen Sanchez from Spain became the fourth first time winner on the Robe di Kappa Ladies European Tour this season with a deserved, yet narrow victory in the € 275,000 BMW Ladies Italian Open.

The 28-year-old from Malaga, who has finished 17 times in the top ten during a six year professional career, finally rid herself of the tag of 'best player not to have won on Tour' with a sterling performance in Sunday's weather interrupted final round.

Sanchez posted rounds of 71, 69, 72 and a final round three under par 69 for a seven under total to win the € 41,250 first prize one shot ahead of Germany's Martina Eberl, who put up a spirited challenge with a five under par 67, which included a dramatic eagle three at the last hole to put Sanchez under pressure to 2-putt from 35-feet for victory.

Sanchez, who led by two shots from Italy's own Diana Luna heading into the final round, began in shakily with a bogey at the par five fourth before a thunderstorm caused a suspension of play for nearly three hours.

It was a nervous time for Sanchez, who joined a throng of fellow Spaniards in the clubhouse while the thunder and lightning threatened to cancel play altogether. And after receiving plenty of encouragement form her compatriots, Sanchez regrouped when play resumed and notched up birdies at the seventh, ninth and 11 th holes.

Eberl trailed by two at the 13 th hole after racking up three birdies in her first 11 holes. But her hopes of winning seemingly ended when she bogeyed the par five, while Sanchez birdied increasing the margin to four shots.

Both players then swapped birdies at the short par four 17 th and the Spaniard, who made a hash of the 18 th hole in Saturday's third round, almost did the same thing again.

Eberl teed off and nailed it 290-yards down the centre of the fairway and Sanchez, arguably the biggest hitter on the LET pulled her tee shot into the left water hazard. After a penalty drop, she had to lay up as Eberl smashed her approach at the par five just left of the green.

"When I hit my fourth shot, I hit it fat and I was screaming 'GO'," explained Sanchez.

"I knew it would be a tricky two-putt and then Martina went and holed her third shot from off the green!"

Eberl had put the pressure on the Spaniard, who must have been thinking if it really was her time to win. But Sanchez, one of Europe's Solheim Cup heroes of Sweden last year, almost nonchalantly stroked her first putt to the side of the hole, leaving her no more than a tap-in for her maiden win.

"That was definitely the hardest two-putt I have ever had in my life," admitted the Spaniard.

"Right now, I just can't describe what I feel..but I think I'm happy!," she joked.

"I got all the pressure on the 18 th again. I was thinking that with a four shot lead, all I needed to do was hit the fairway, lay up, knock my third on and I should be OK. But then I hit it left in the water.it's my bogey hole!

"Martina played really well all day long and she never gave up."

Eberl, a former European amateur champion who can always been seen with a huge smile on her face, was delighted both for Sanchez and for her best finish in a two year career.

"After the 13 th , I was actually quite calm where normally I'd be furious and when I was coming up to the 17 th , my goal was just to finish second on my own," said Eberl, who picked up € 27,912 for her efforts.

"But when I holed the chip, I was counting the scores and I knew Ana had to make a two putt and to be honest, I was happy she did. She really deserved it and it's about time she had a win and I'm really happy for her."

Karine Icher from France took third place outright on three under par after a faultless 68 and was showing similar form which earned her three Tour victories as she heads onto home territory for next week's Ladies French Open in Arras.

Virginie Beauchet from France carded a final round 68 to finish fourth on her own at two under , w hile Italy's own Diana Luna in fifth place on level par after a disappointing 74 in front of her hometown gallery.

SCORES FROM THE FINAL ROUND BELOW

281  - Ana B Sanchez (ESP) 71 69 72 69

282  - Martina Eberl (GER) 71 73 71 67

285  - Karine Icher (FRA) 70 76 71 68

286  - Virginie Beauchet (FRA) 74 68 76 68

288  - Diana Luna (ITA) 71 73 70 74

289  - Johanna Head (ENG) 71 74 71 73

290  - Elisabeth Esterl (GER) 70 78 75 67, Gwladys Nocera (FRA) 75 71 74 70, Alison Nicholas (ENG) 74 73 73 70, Corinne Dibnah (AUS) 73 75 70 72

291  - Asa Gottmo (SWE) 74 75 70 72, Nicola Moult (ENG) 70 74 74 73, Linda Wessberg (SWE) 70 77 71 73, Anja Monke (GER) 76 75 67 73

292  - Raquel Carriedo (ESP) 72 76 76 68, Maria Boden (SWE) 74 76 72 70, Sara Beautell (ESP) 79 73 69 71, Marina Arruti (ESP) 71 73 75 73, Minea Blomqvist (FIN) 76 71 72 73

293  - Judith Van Hagen (NL) 71 74 77 71, Becky Brewerton (WAL) 76 75 71 71, Gina Scott (NZ) 77 74 71 71, Lynnette Brooky (NZ) 74 72 72 75, Trish Johnson (ENG) 71 74 72 76

294  - Stephanie Arricau (FRA) 73 78 70 73, Lara Tadiotto (BEL) 75 75 70 74, Nicole Stillig (GER) 73 74 72 75

295  - Riikka Hakkarainen (FIN) 72 78 74 71, Karen Margrethe Juul (DEN) 70 76 77 72, Kirsty Taylor (ENG) 74 71 76 74

296  - Helena Alterby (SWE) 77 73 75 71, Julie Forbes (SCO) 75 77 71 73, Cecilie Lundgreen (NOR) 71 76 75 74, Nuria Clau (ESP) 75 77 68 76

297  - Natascha Fink (AUT) 76 76 72 73, Anne-Marie Knight (AUS) 76 74 72 75, Karen Lunn (AUS) 72 74 75 76

298  - Virginie Auffret (FRA) 77 72 72 77, Alexandra Armas (ESP) 72 75 72 79

300  - Laurette Maritz (SA) 74 75 78 73, Susan Parry (USA) 74 78 75 73, Katie Bakken (USA) 75 75 74 76, Stefania Croce (ITA) 72 74 77 77, Carina Vagner (DEN) 72 72 76 80

301  - Jane Leary (AUS) 73 77 78 73, Sophie Sandolo (ITA) 77 73 77 74, Marine Monnet (FRA) 76 76 75 74, Nienke Nijenhuis (NL) 73 77 76 75, Valerie Van Ryckeghem (BEL) 70 77 78 76, Marta Prieto (ESP) 72 78 75 76, Dale Reid (SCO) 75 77 73 76, Caroline Hall (ENG) 76 76 71 78, Ursula Tuutti (FIN) 77 72 73 79

302  - Margherita Rigon (ITA) 77 74 80 71, Joanna Whalley (AUS) 76 76 75 75, Isabella Maconi (ITA) 73 77 76 76, Anna Becker (SWE) 73 78 74 77

304  - Wendy Dicks (ENG) 80 72 79 73, Florence Descampe (BEL) 73 71 81 79

305  - Jessica Lindbergh (SWE) 76 75 80 74, Pam Sowden (NZ) 74 77 77 77

306  - Kirsty S Taylor (ENG) 77 75 75 79

307  - Alexandra Keighley (ENG) 76 76 77 78

309  - Giusy Paolillo (Am) (ITA) 75 76 82 76, Ludivine Kreutz (FRA) 76 76 74 83

 

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