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Gwladys Nocera clinches second win of year

France’s Gwladys Nocera proved that she is still the woman to beat in European golf by sealing her second tournament victory inside a month today at the BMW Ladies Italian Open in Rome.

The 31-year-old from Biarritz fought off a strong challenge from her compatriot and playing partner Sophie Giquel to eventually claim a two shot margin of victory and take a first prize of €60,000. Her winning total was fourteen-under-par 274 after rounds of 71, 66, 65 and 72.

After claiming the Deutsche Bank Ladies Swiss Open four weeks ago, and with five consecutive top five finishes in her last five Ladies European Tour events, she moved even further ahead in the European rankings with over €210,000 earned in seven appearances.

In her position as European number one, she is now over €120,000 clear of England’s Laura Davies. But after starting the day three shots ahead, she did not make the victory easy for herself.

“It was not easy today. Sophie was always there. I knew she was going to play well but she gave me a really hard time,” she said.

Nocera built a six shot lead after 57 holes when she birdied the second and Giquel bogeyed the first and third. She then dropped two shots at the fourth and seventh while Giquel also bogeyed the seventh, to lower her lead to five.

From the eighth hole, Giquel began a run of four birdies in five holes and, after 12 holes; the gap had narrowed to just one stroke.

After both players made three consecutive pars, Nocera made her move by holing a short putt for birdie at the 16th, which marked the turning point.

“I got worried because I was playing well but I couldn’t make a birdie. On 16, I knew I had to get it close so I put it to about two metres,” she said. “Even then I was worried because I had missed quite a few like that.”

With a two shot advantage after 71 holes, victory looked certain for Nocera until her third shot at the par-five 18th took a huge bounce and flew through the back of the green. With Giquel facing a birdie opportunity, she knew she had to get up and down from the rough to be certain of avoiding a play-off. After Giquel missed her birdie putt; she successfully got up and down to seal her second crown.

“It was harder to win today than the first time because Sophie was playing so well and on 18 I knew she could have holed that putt to force a play-off,” said Nocera.

“I missed birdie chances on 14 and 15 and I knew it was time to make one at 16. The last few holes were tricky but it was great to finally get the job done.”

Nocera becomes the second French winner of the BMW Ladies Italian Open after Ludivine Kreutz won at Poggio dei Medici in 2003 and hers was the third French win of 2006 after Stephanie Arricau claimed the KLM Ladies Open in the Netherlands three weeks ago,

highlighting the strength of French women’s golf on the LET. With her most recent victory, Nocera was delighted to join the title’s elite group of former winners, which includes Davies, Sophie Gustafson, Paula Marti and last year’s winner, Denmark’s Iben Tinning.

Tinning, who had a final round of 72, put up a solid defence of her title but eventually had to settle for a share of third position at eight-under-par with six other players: Italy’s Veronica Zorzi, Spaniards Ana Belen Sanchez, Elisa Serramia and Laura Cabanillas; England’s Rebecca Hudson; and Sweden’s Linda Wessberg.

French woman Giquel finished alone in second position on a total of 12-under-par after a final round of 71, which was her best career finish in three seasons on the Ladies European Tour.

England’s Henrietta Brockway, 16, collected the trophy for the best score by an amateur. The Wiltshire based Nick Faldo protégé finished on a total of six-over-par.

 

 




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