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Trio share first-round lead at Terre Blanche
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                            Valentine Derrey                    Photo: Courtesy of Dog Leg Media

Frenchwomen Valentine Derrey and Marion Ricordeau are tied at the top of the leader board with Sweden’s Viva Schlasberg after the first round of the season-opening Terre Blanche Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour Access Series.

The trio shot rounds of three under 70 on a fine and calm day at the magnificent Terre Blanche resort and golf club near Cannes in Provence.

Local players Schlasberg and Derrey, who both train in nearby Toulouse, each had five birdies along with two bogeys, while Schlasberg’s score card was more interesting, with seven birdies against four dropped shots.   

“I played very solid and just missed two greens today, but I putted well; I hit almost all the fairways,” said Schlasberg, who was five under par after 15 holes, but bogeyed two of her last three holes.

“It was nice and solid but in the end I got nervous. I am glad to see the ball rolling in: normally I do not do it. It is fantastic,” she added.

Schlasberg missed out on earning full playing status at the Ladies European Tour’s Final Qualifying School at La Manga Club in January. Since then, warm weather winter practise in Spain has been combined with putting on carpet back home in Sweden and she added: “These greens are very fast, similar to my living room!”

Ricordeau was delighted with her steady round and commented: “I played pretty good today. I had five birdies and two bogeys: the one on the eighth, was the last one. My driving was pretty good and iron game was so, so, but good enough to make birdies. My putting was pretty good. I hit 13 greens and had a total of 29 putts.

“My first birdie at 15th hole, I chipped in and had two birdies in holes 18 and six, both pars fives, where I reached in two. The other two birdies were at hole four, another par five, where I used a wedge and putt and on hole 9 (another par five), where I was just next to the green.

“I feel amazing: really good and really happy. I hope I will be able to repeat it again, playing that low. It’s been a long time so I’m really happy and I think I’m going to try to do it tomorrow again.”

Derrey, who last year earned conditional exemption status on the LPGA Tour via the US Symetra Tour,  made a good start with birdies on the 14th and 15th but dropped shots at the 16th and 17th. She fought back with birdies on the first, third and fourth holes to share the lead on three under.

“I started off pretty well. I feel good and I’m playing well, doing what I need to do, so we’ll see what happens. I’ve been working on my long game and my putting. I wanted to hit more consistently so I’m working on my swing.”

A stroke back on two under par, Spain’s Ana Larrañeta shares fourth place with Scottish amateur Pamela Pretswell.

Larrañeta said: “It was a steady round: I hit all the fairways, not really far, but okay. I hit 15 greens and had 33 putts, as I three putted two greens, so I had five birdies and three bogeys. I reached the par five ninth and the 18th hole in two.”

Pretswell, a competent tennis player before she took up golf, said: “I played pretty steady the whole round; I only missed two greens and holed a few putts, and six birdies. I had a total of 32 putts. I reached the par five ninth and 18th in two and birdied the 18th.”

The 2011 event champion, Henrietta Zuel, from England, could only manage a six over par 79, but nine shots off the lead in a share of 46th place, there is still the opportunity to improve on that position with two rounds to go.

   Junior Clinic held at the L'Albatros Golf Performance Centre, Terre Blanche

At the end of the first round, Derrey’s sister, Stephanie Derrey from FF Golf Production, organised a clinic for local junior golfers, in association with Conseil General du Var (the Provence Alpes Cote D’Azur district, known as PACA).

A total of 65 juniors from eight golf Schools were able to enjoy the expert advice from Ladies European Tour professional golfers Virginie Lagoutte-Clement and Lucie Andre at L’Albatros Golf Performance Centre at Terre Blanche, which also doubles as the European Tour Performance Institute (ETPI).

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