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Kreutz intent on successful defence in Hungary

French woman Ludivine Kreutz returns to Old Lake Golf and Country Club this week intent on making a successful defence of the €165,000 OTP Bank Ladies Central European Open, which takes place from July 13-15 in Tata, an hour from the Hungarian capital Budapest .

Kreutz closed out her second victory of the season last July at the foothills of the Gerecse Mountains in the former Eastern Bloc State , making a decisive move towards securing her place in The 2005 European Solheim Cup Team.

Twelve months on and she is determined to regain the momentum that eventually saw her to eighth in Ladies' European Tour's final 2005 Money List.

But she explained that after a seemingly perfect year on the golf course, in which she secured two wins and made her Solheim Cup debut, she was still coming to terms with the tragic death of her brother last year, whom she lost to cancer at the age of just 40 just before the time of the French Open.

“ I played for him in 2005 and that's why it was a special year for me,” she said.

“This year I'm trying to enjoy the game and take pleasure in it. If the wins come, that's great but if not, I'm not going to blame myself.

“I'm playing okay. I wish I could have more top ten finishes but there are a few things I need to do to make myself feel more relaxed. I feel that things are coming together I just have to make a few tweaks. I feel like I'm driving a Twingo with the engine of a Ferrari.”

Kreutz starts as one of the favourites in the 54-hole event, which takes place at Old Lake G&CC for the third consecutive year as she is currently ranked 10 th on the LET's New Star Money List.

She is aiming to secure the fifth French win of 2006 on the Ladies European Tour after her compatriots Gwladys Nocera and Stephanie Arricau collected two wins each in the last two months.

With the European numbers one and two respectively having a week's rest from tournament golf in the lead up to the Evian Masters in a fortnight's time, Kreutz could close the gap on the pair with a good performance this week.

The English pairing of Samantha Head and Lora Fairclough, who finished tied for second behind Kreutz last year, are confident that they can put a stop to the French dominance on this year's LET.

Head relinquished a two shot overnight lead to register runner-up last year at Old Lake, but the 33-year-old is adamant she can claim a fourth career victory in this, her third appearance of 2006 in Europe.

Meanwhile England 's Rebecca Hudson, the winner of the Acer South African Open and the Nedbank Women's South African Golf Tour's Order of Merit, is another woman who is expected to feature prominently.

Hudson carded a career low round of nine-under-par 62 in the final round at Old Lake last year and equalled the course record set by Finland's Minea Blomqvist in 2004, eventually finishing in a tie for eighth place. Hudson 's form has sky-rocketed since then and she is sixth on the current New Star Money List after four top tens in only eight starts this season.

Among the 126 players in this week's event, there are five amateurs including 13-year-old Czech Jessica Korda, who is the youngest player to compete on the LET since 2003.

Korda was the youngest player to take part in the Czech Amateur Championship in 2003 and she finished second in the 2006 US Women's Open regional qualifying. The youngster, who is a student at the IMG Leadbetter academy in Bradenton, Florida, currently holds a handicap of 2.9 and carded a hole-in-one at the age of eight.

By comparison, England's Brockway is one of the older amateurs in the field and at the age of 16, she is aiming to make her third halfway cut in a Ladies European Tour event. She tied for 32nd last year in Hungary and 66th in this year's Italian Open. The other three amateurs in the field are Czech Edita Nechanicka, Teja Kikelj from Slovenia and Russian player Maria Verchenova.

Old Lake G&CC is a park land course located just a couple of hours from the three capital cities Budapest , Vienna and Prague . It was d esigned by Laszlo Soproni and opened in Autumn 1998.

July 13, 2006


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