(Algarve, Portugal – June 24 2005) Laura Cabanillas from Spain and Helena Alterby from Sweden share the first round lead at the €300, 000 Algarve Ladies Open of Portugal.

Spain’s Laura Cabanillas

Coming fresh from a seventh place finish two weeks ago at the Arras Open de France Dames, Alterby is well poised to take a Tour title.

“I feel like I’m playing really well at the moment and I’m in my best ever form,” said Alterby, who is in her third season with the LET.

“It was a great day, I love the course and luckily there wasn’t too much wind this morning, so another day like this tomorrow would certainly be what I’m looking for.”

Cabanillas also has a strong incentive this week. Her goal is make it into the top 35 on the Money list in order to qualify automatically for the Weetabix Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale GC in July.

This week marks the cut off point for qualification and she is currently 41st in the official ranking.

“I had my best ever round today and I’m feeling at home on this course and with this temperature,” said Cabanillas, who is due to get married in December.

“Recently I’ve been playing really well at the beginning of the week and then losing it, but I want to play well this week so hopefully I’ll be up there again tomorrow.”

Nocera, 30, from Biarritz in France, is the current third highest on the LET Money list and sixth in The 2005 Solheim Cup rankings. Her form this season has been phenomenal, with two second place finishes at the Thailand Ladies Open and Siemens Austrian Ladies Golf Open.

She will be another strong contender for a maiden win on Tour this week after her two close encounters.

“In Thailand I wasn’t too disappointed to lose out to Shani (Waugh) because it was my first time in contention and I figured you have to lose before you win but I was a little disappointed in Austria after holding the lead on the last day,” she said.

If she maintains her position in the official Solheim Cup ranking, she will automatically qualify for the European team when they head to Crooked Stick in Indianapolis in September. Yet Nocera remained cautious of any speculation on that subject.

“Of course it would be a dream to play, but there are so many tournaments to go, I’ve just got to be patient.

“But if I finish second every week then I’ll be in!” she said.