Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lalla Meryem Cup Saturday: The Veterans Strike Back--Nocera and Giquel-Bettan Roar Past Jutanugarn

While 2nd-round leader and defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn was mired in neutral for most of moving day at the Lalla Meryem Cup, French veterans Gwladys Nocera and Sophie Giquel-Bettan roared past her on the strength of a 7-birdie 65 from Nocera and a 7-birdie 67 from Giquel-Bettan.  When the dust settled in the passing lane, Nocera had taken the 3rd-round lead by becoming the 1st golfer in the field to get to double digits under par; at -11, she leads Giquel-Bettan by 2, Jutanugarn by 4, and Charley Hull (68), Titiya Plucksataporn (65), Holly Clyburn (67), and Mathilda Cappeliez by 5.

In addition to Nocera and Plucksataporn, Valentine Derrey and Hannah Burke also posted 65s, while Joanna Klatten and Kim Williams came in with 66s.  All in all, it was a good day for France, England, and Thailand, but not all English golfers made big moves today.  Laura Davies and Sophie Walker could manage only even-par 71s and Rebecca Hudson a 70 and all of them were caught (along with Lee-Anne Pace, who also posted a 70) by Derrey and Burke at -5.  By contrast, some golfers not accustomed to being near the top of an LET leaderboard moved backwards today.  Rookie Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland (who not too long ago was near the very top of the World Amateur Golf Ranking) made 4 birdies, 4 bogeys, and 2 doubles to post a 75 and drop all the way to E for the week (T36).  Meanwhile, Germany's Nina Holleder got off to a bad start, recovered in the middle of her round, but suffered a walkoff bogey that brought her back to -3 (T16).

So let's see tomorrow whether Nocera can attain her 13th LET victory, whether Giquel-Bettan can reenter the winner's circle on the LET for the 1st time since 2007, whether it will be Jutanugarn who beats her to LET win #2, or whether someone else will go low and take the title from all 3 of them.

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