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Hernández holds onto lead in France
October 03, 2014

Maria Hernández, 2014 Lacoste Ladies Open de France
Maria Hernández plays her second shot on the eighth hole in front of 'La Rhune'

Maria Hernández kept a narrow lead at the Lacoste Ladies Open de France on Friday morning after adding a three-under-par 67 to her opening 65 at Golf de Chantaco in St Jean de Luz.

On another warm and sunny day, the 28-year-old from Pamplona carded three birdies on the front nine at the third, seventh and ninth holes before coming back in level par with two birdies on the 13 th and 14 th against a pair of bogeys on the 11 th and 18 th .

“It was a good day out there today again. I was playing very solid. I hit the ball very consistent through 18 holes and didn't miss a shot. I just made a couple of mistakes with my putter and that was it: that's why the round wasn't lower,” said Hernández.

The three players a stroke behind going into the weekend are fellow Spaniard Carlota Ciganda, England's Florentyna Parker and amateur Albane Valenzuela, 16, from Switzerland.

The young Swiss, who is playing in her first professional tournament, birdied the seventh, ninth and tenth holes before holing out with her second shot on the par-4 11 th , where she played a ‘small 8-iron' to the green from 122 metres. 

“I had no expectations coming here. I just wanted to make the cut and have fun. The way I've played today was just awesome and I feel really, really happy. It's a great day,” said Valenzuela, whose mother is French and father is Mexican. She was born in New York and lived in the United States for a year before moving to Mexico for five years. She then moved to Switzerland at the age of six and took Swiss nationality three years ago.

Of the more experienced players, Ciganda is feeling at home this week as her caddie Javier Urquizu is from nearby Hondarribia, just 15 minutes away across the Spanish border.

Ciganda said: “I started with a bogey but made five birdies in the next six holes. My putting was working today and then on the back nine I didn't play that bad but was not hitting the ball that well and it was a bit tough.

“I think I was a bit tired on the back nine because there are a few hills and it was tough. I was trying to drink water and eat a little bit so it was better.”

Parker birdied holes five, 15 and 18 to remain in contention and she added: “I was bogey free today. I just had three birdies and two of those on the last four holes. That made it a better round. I played very steady with nothing too special but nothing bad.”

The defending champion Azahara Munoz, Charley Hull and Isabelle Boineau were on five under par and three strokes off the lead at the halfway point.

Hull, who is taking medication for tonsillitis this week, was one over par on the front nine but picked up five strokes in her last six holes for a three-under-par-67, which included an eagle on the 15 th . 

“I'm starting to trust myself and my swing and my driver a bit more. I didn't hole many putts on the front nine but the back nine, my putting went back to usual and I putted really well so to be five under for the last seven holes, is pretty good,” said Hull.

Boineau 25, from Marseille, was six-under-par after 13 holes but missed several birdie putts before dropping a stroke on the par-4 17 th . 

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