Sharmila make it to final stage of LET

La Manga: Sharmila Nicollet of India played tremendous golf under pressure to qualify for the Final Stage of the Ladies European Tour Q-School with a superb even par 73 at the La Manga South Course on Wednesday evening. Sharmila, the No. 1 professional in India, finished with a four-round score of eight-over 296 in the tournament played over two courses. Sharmila finished in a tie for 19th place, up from tied 27th overnight.

Sharmila had rounds of 74, 80, 69 and 73 and was the only Indian to make the final stage of the LET’s Qualifying School. “It is a fantastic feeling, but I have one more step to go. It has been a great experience playing in these kind of conditions and in such a field,” said Sharmila, who will now play in the 90-hole Final Stage that begins on Sunday.

Sharmila, who had a great two-under 69 on third day, continued in the same vein and played very steady golf with eight pars to start with followed by a birdie on the ninth in the fourth and final round. A bogey on the 10th set her back, but the eagle on the par-5 gave her the momentum she needed. She held on despite bogeys on 14th and 17th for a card of 73 and moved one step closer to making the elite Ladies European Tour.

Smriti Mehra, India’s most experienced professional, too, had a chance of making the Final Stage, but a string of three bogeys in the last four holes cost her dear and she missed the qualification. From being two-under after 14 holes, she finished one-over 72 on the par-71 North Course. She finished with a total of 14-over 302 in Group B. The last player to make the top-35 and ties was at 12-over in tied 34th place, as 37 players made it from the group.

Nalini Singh Siwach (74) ended tied 54th, Rhea Nair (76) tied 65th and Neha Tripathi (85) tied 93rd were the other Indians, who missed making the final Stage.

A total of 72 players having graduated to the Final Stage and a 90-hole test now awaits 101 players – including the 29 who were exempt into the final stage - at the La Manga Club in Cartagena, Murcia, Spain.

The field will play both the North and South Courses for the first four rounds with a cut to the leading 50 players and ties after 72 holes. The final round, which will determine exemption categories for the 2012 season, will then be played on the South course. At stake is a place on The 2012 Ladies European Tour for the cream of the crop. The players will all be eyeing a place in the top 30 to secure eligibility for the main LET Membership.

Esther Choe of the United States won the group A tournament at Pre-Qualifying, coming out as the best of the 35 qualifiers from that field at La Manga Club on Wednesday, 11th January. She shot rounds of 71, 76, 66 and 67 to finish on eight under par, four clear of England’s Jodi Ewart. The cut off was 11 over par.

Meanwhile England’s Hannah Burke won the group B competition, where 37 players qualified at 12 over par or better. Burke shot rounds of 74, 69, 67 and 67 over the South, North, South and North course at La Manga Club respectively. She ended 11 under par and six shots ahead of Swede Karin Sjodin.