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Sophie Giquel collects first LET title

France's Sophie Giquel collected her first Ladies European Tour victory with a strong finish at the Open de Portugal on the Algarve.

After entering the final round tied with fellow Frenchwoman Jade Schaeffer, Swede Louise Stahle and Australian Joanne Mills at seven-under-par, the 24-year-old from Lyon shot a three-under 69 in strong winds to win by two strokes on ten-under-par 206.

Stahle, the leading Tour rookie who was also looking for her first win, shot a final round 71 to settle for second place, her career best finish.

Schaeffer, a fellow rookie, carded 74 and celebrated her 21 st birthday by finishing in outright third position on five-under-par. She was assisted by her sister, fellow LET professional Fany, who missed the 36-hole cut in the tournament and took on the role of caddy.

Mills managed a 76 and tied for fourth with Swede Johanna Westerberg on three-under at the Gramacho Pestana Golf Resort near Carvoeiro. Denmark's Lisa Holm Sorensen finished in sixth place on two-under-par after a final round of 73, which included a chip in for an eagle two at the fifth.

Giquel had four birdies and one bogey in her final round, with three birdies in her last seven holes, where the wind was at its strongest. She shared a three-way tie for the lead on seven-under at the turn, but was two behind after Stahle birdied the 10 th and 11 th .

Both players birdied the par-five 12 th , but Giquel was able to take advantage of Stahle's mistakes at the 13 th and 16 th to draw level with the Swede.

She gained the outright lead with a birdie at the next, rolling in a 36 foot downhill putt and then birdied the par-five last to seal the victory.

The win was worth €30,000, a three-year exemption to the Ladies European Tour and a place in the Evian Masters.

It also took her up six places to sixth on the New Star Money List and she earned 40 Solheim Cup points, taking her to fourth place on the European Solheim Cup Team standings; inside the top five places that will earn automatic qualification for the team that faces the Americans in September.

“Of course I'm very happy to have won my first tournament in Portugal. I want to thank my husband Axel who has been a great part of this win,” said Giquel, who married her caddy Axel Bettan on 28 th December. The pair are planning a church ceremony and party for the 14 th September this year, which is the first day of The 2007 Solheim Cup in Sweden.

When asked if she would cancel the wedding celebrations should she qualify for the team, she said: “We will see what happens. I will try to do my best on the golf course and if I am in, then I will go.”

Giquel revealed that her husband gave her a key piece of advice on the 17 th green. “I wanted to play one ball on the left and Axel said, “No, its one ball to the right.” I said, “Are you sure?” and he said, “Yes, I am sure.” So I went for it. I hit the ball a little too strong but it hit the middle of the hole and fell straight in.

“After that I thought that maybe I could win and also when Louise bogeyed the 16 th . After that it was a bit hard to play. I had a one shot lead and I thought, “Don't think about the wind; don't think about Evian, don't think about anything apart from your shots and you will see what happens at the end. It was very tough.”

England's Lisa Hall carded the only albatross of the week at the 18 th when she holed her five-wood approach from 179 yards.

29 June – 1 July

Final scoreboard:

206  - Sophie Giquel (FRA) 70 67 69

208  - Louise Stahle (SWE) 70 67 71

211  - Jade Schaeffer (FRA) 68 69 74

213  - Johanna Westerberg (SWE) 69 71 73, Joanne Mills (AUS) 69 68 76

214  - Lisa Holm Sorensen (DEN) 73 68 73

216  - Kirsty Taylor (ENG) 71 74 71, Laura Cabanillas (ESP) 69 74 73, Anna Rossi (ITA) 70 73 73

217  - Cherie Byrnes (AUS) 68 77 72, Melodie Bourdy (FRA) 69 73 75

218  - Stefania Croce (ITA) 75 72 71, Rebecca Hudson (ENG) 73 72 73, Antonella Cvitan (SWE) 74 74 70, Titiya Plucksataporn (THA) 70 73 75, Minea Blomqvist (FIN) 69 72 77, Lynn Brooky (NZ) 71 70 77

219  - Karen Lunn (AUS) 74 72 73, Asa Gottmo (SWE) 72 74 73, Kathryn Imrie (SCO) 71 73 75, Ludivine Kreutz (FRA) 76 68 75, Frederique Seeholzer (SWI) 70 73 76, Eleanor Pilgrim (WAL) 72 70 77

220  - Sophie Walker (ENG) 74 73 73, Lisa Hall (ENG) 73 74 73, Clare Queen (SCO) 73 72 75, Margherita Rigon (ITA) 74 70 76, Leah Hart (AUS) 73 69 78, Laura Terebey (USA) 72 69 79

221  - Laurette Maritz (SA) 74 73 74, Lynn Kenny (SCO) 69 76 76, Sara Beautell (ESP) 75 73 73, Lara Tadiotto (BEL) 75 70 76, Diana Luna (ITA) 72 76 73, Ana Larraneta (ESP) 77 72 72, Rebecca Coakley (IRE) 71 78 72

222  - Samantha Head (ENG) 70 77 75, Lisa Jean (AUS) 68 79 75, Lotta Wahlin (SWE) 71 74 77, Anja Monke (GER) 70 78 74, Linda Wessberg (SWE) 76 72 74, Anna Temple (USA) 74 74 74, Stacy Lee Bregman (SA) 75 73 74, Tania Elosegui (ESP) 70 78 74, Mianne Bagger (DEN) 69 72 81, Martina Gillen (IRE) 72 77 73, Virginie Lagoutte-Clement (FRA) 73 76 73

223  - Beatriz Recari (ESP) 77 70 76, Marta Prieto (ESP) 74 71 78, Danielle Masters (ENG) 74 70 79, Bettina Hauert (GER) 74 75 74, Natalie Claire Booth (ENG) 73 76 74

224  - Felicity Johnson (ENG) 74 73 77, Hanna-Leena Salonen (FIN) 76 71 77, Lora Fairclough (ENG) 74 74 76, Maria Boden (SWE) 76 73 75, Stephanie Arricau (FRA) 76 73 75

225  - Kaisa Ruuttila (FIN) 71 75 79, Holly Aitchison (Am) (ENG) 73 75 77, Cassandra Kirkland (FRA) 71 78 76

226  - Rikke Rasmussen (DEN) 73 72 81

227  - Veronica Zorzi (ITA) 79 70 78

228  - Louise Friberg (SWE) 76 70 82, Tullia Calzavara (ITA) 74 74 80, Sofia Renell (SWE) 75 73 80, Ellen Smets (BEL) 76 72 80, Lee-Anne Pace (SA) 75 74 79

229  - Marianne Skarpnord (NOR) 77 72 80

232  - Christine Hallstrom (SWE) 73 76 83

233  - Barbara Paruscio (ITA) 73 76 84

 




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