amateur golf
amateur golf


France's Karine Icher led by six shots at the start of play in the third round of the 325,000 Compaq Open at Österåkers GC, but her hot putting of the last two days let her down as she stumbled to a three over par 76.

The 22-year-old from Châteauroux now leads by just three shots from Solheim Cup stars Raquel Carriedo from Spain, who fired a level par 73, and a fast moving Sophie Gustafson from Sweden, who equalled Icher's Thursday course record seven under par 66 with nine birdies and two bogies.

Icher's compatriot Marine Monnet also added her name to the list of course
record holders with a faultless display to move to four under par. And Swede
Liselotte Neumann is one shot further back after a five under par 68.

Gustafson, who has won twice this year on two Tours, was 13 shots behind at
the start of play and seemingly out of it. But with her powerful attacking style, she moved within sight of her third victory with a sterling display of iron play and putting.

A front nine of two under 34 was enough to stir her competitive juices into action after a disappointing 77 in the second round to add to her opening round of 69.

And on the back nine, she delighted her local fans with a string of five consecutive birdies from the 11th to the 15th to race up the leaderboard.

Despite a shaky par at the last, holing from 15 feet for a error free back nine of 32, she knew she was now in perfect position to add a third victory.

"Very interesting - I feel much better now than I felt yesterday afternoon said the 27-year-old from Saro.

"I hit every fairway yesterday and I guess my iron play was bad, but I managed to work it better today.

"It is great being in contention at home and I think it is going to be a bit of Matchplay with Karine tomorrow."

Carriedo, playing in the last group with the Frenchwoman, began in steady fashion with 12 straight pars before picking up her first shot at the 13th.

But the 30-year-old from Zaragoza dropped a shot at the short par four 15th
and closed with three more pars.

Despite picking up three shots, Carriedo was frustrated that she did not make the most of Icher's struggle.

"I was struggling with my putter a lot today," said Carriedo, who has finished runner up nine times on Tour.

"I needed to see a couple of putts drop to give me some confidence and pile
the pressure on, but they weren't going in.

"Then I was feeling a little pressure out there and my confidence with the putter went with it. But hopefully, that is my bad day, and I am going to have to be under par tomorrow to stand a chance."

Icher's lead narrowed at the opening hole when she three putted from the back of the green for an opening bogey. But a birdie at the sixth repaired the damage and when she added another at the ninth, she led by seven.

But the wheels began to loosen as she carded back-to-back bogies at the 10th, three putting again, and the 11th, finding the water with her second shot after being blocked out by a tree.

A missed birdie putt from two feet at the 12th followed and further shots went on the 15th, another three putt from ten feet, and the 17th, missing the green long with a seven iron and failing to get up and down.

But the Tour rookie is still confident of a maiden win.

"Today, I was not putting good," said Icher, who was heading to the putting
green after her round.

"I did hit good iron shots, that was better today. Tomorrow, I will just go
out and play my game. It's not Matchplay, it is a medal round and I will be
going out to try and post the best score and not worry about what the others
are doing."

Monnet saw the chance of a French top two finish as she moved into the hunt
for her best finish of the year.

The 23-year-old from Paris, who tied for fourth at the Evian Masters, carded
two halves of 33 to move into fourth spot and knows that she is not out of
it yet.

"I played really well out there, I was very concentrated all the way
around," said Monnet.

"This season, I am not disappointed, I have been working hard to win, I
don't know if I am ready yet, but I want to so much. If I don't win, a
French first and second would be nice though tomorrow."


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