(Grenoble, France, 30 October 2002) Karine Mathiot and Gwladys Nocera from France carded the lowest scores of their lives to share the lead after the first round of the Evian Ladies European Tour qualifying school at Golf Grenoble Charmeil at the foothills of the French Alps.

Pilgrim – solid start

At the 12th, the 29-year-old from Toulouse fired a four iron to 15 feet for another birdie and at the 15th, holed from the same distance to reach five under. And at the tricky par five closing hole, Mathiot knocked a pitching wedge to a matter of inches to close out the best round of her life.

“I had a four under in Biarritz, but this is definitely the best score of my life,” said Mathiot.

“It was a very good day and I was feeling good all day long. For me there is not too much pressure and I’m hoping for the same tomorrow – it must be the fresh air coming in off the mountain.

Nocera had a day to remember with her putter, holing from almost everywhere as she racked up seven birdies and a solitary bogey for the best score of her life.

Starting at the tenth, the 27-year-old from Vichy posted two birdies to turn in 35, but on the front nine, five birdies came in six holes as she raced into a share of the lead.

“It’s my lowest ever score and I’m glad it happened today,” said Nocera, the runner up in this years French amateur championship.

Bennett, a 12-year-veteran of the European Tour, played to her strengths with a scintillating display of short iron precision, carding birdies at the 11th, 16th, 17th and 18th on her opening nine holes to turn in 32.

Dickens – a few tap in birdies

Another birdie followed at the eighth but as daylight faded, she was denied the chance of sharing the lead when she three putted the ninth, her final hole.

“When I saw Sarah (Bennett) up there on the leaderboard, I thought to myself, ‘if she can do it, so can I’,” laughed the 31-year-old from Northampton.

“I had a nice little blitz there in the middle and that certainly helps out. I’ve been working hard on my putting recently and it’s definitely paying off.”

At the end of play on Thursday, the field will be cut to the top 90 players and those tied, with a further cut to the top 50 and ties after Friday’s third round. Saturday’s final round will determine the top 30 category seven fully exempt players and the 20 remaining players will each receive a category 10 conditional card.