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Gwladys Nocera claims third win of 2006

Gwladys Nocera underlined her standing as European no.1 by securing her third victory inside ten weeks at the Catalonia Ladies Masters at Golf D'Aro on Spain 's Costa Brava .

The 31-year-old from Biarritz claimed the title by a convincing five strokes from Australian rookie Sarah Kemp with three consecutive rounds of 69, to finish on a total of nine-under-par 207.

Nocera held the joint lead with her compatriot Sophie Giquel after the first round; seized a commanding four stroke lead after the second and extended that to five to keep the title in French hands, taking it from the two-time winner Karine Icher.

With her first prize cheque of 55,000 euros, Nocera extended her lead in the New Star Money List considerably and has now earned almost 300,000 euros so far this season.

There have now been five French wins in the last seven tournaments on the Ladies European Tour - but Nocera still has four more titles to collect if she is to reach Marie Laure de Lorenzi's all time record of seven victories in a single season.

French woman Stephanie Arricau has recorded two wins this year - the KLM and Portuguese Opens - while Nocera added the Catalonian crown to her previous victories in Italy and Switzerland .

After eight top tens in nine starts including her three victories, Nocera declared that she was keen to keep up her winning streak. When asked if she had expected to win a hat-trick of tournaments, she said: “After three comes four and now I'm already thinking about the next one.”

The Evian Masters and the Weetabix Women's British Open take place over the next fortnight and are the two biggest tournaments in European women's golf.

“It would be great to win Evian at home in France but the British is the one I would love to win the most. I think I still need to improve my game to win, but if I play well, I would love to finish top ten,” said The 2005 Solheim Cup player.

Nocera has already beaten some of the best players in the world and she announced her talent to a global audience when she defeated US player Cristie Kerr in her singles match at The 2005 Solheim Cup in America .

At Golf D'Aro today, she began strongly with two consecutive birdies at the first and second holes and sank an important ten-foot bogey putt at the fourth.

A run of three birdies from the sixth took her to ten-under-par with a five shot lead at the turn. That was enough to give her a comfortable margin of victory despite two bogeys coming home at the 11 th and 18 th holes.

Only Australia 's Kemp came close to challenging the French woman after her 68 took her to four-under-par for the tournament. The 20-year-old from New South Wales finished in outright second position and she carded three birdies, a bogey and an eagle at the par-five eighth hole, for her career best finish.

Kemp is looking forward to making her debut in the Weetabix Women's British Open at Royal Lytham and St Annes in a fortnight's time and plans to practise there for the next seven days in preparation.

“I come from New South Wales GC and its a little linksy so I like those tournaments,” she admitted.

French woman Ludivine Kreutz had a 66 – the joint best score of the week – and tied for third position on three-under-par with Maria Hjorth of Sweden . Spain 's Marina Arruti also had a 66 to claim outright fourth place on two-under-par. Finland's Riikka Hakkarainen tied for sixth with Sweden's Lotta Wahlin and England's Lisa Hall finished outright eighth place for the best finish in the tournament by a Briton.




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