Martina Eberl

Eberl came into the week leading The 18 Finest by Banque Baring Brothers Sturdza, which ends on Saturday. She enhanced her chances of winning the season-long tournament by birdying the 17th and 18th holes, which are the final holes to contribute to the event.

“Of course The 18 Finest is a big deal but I just tried to stay calm and do what I did the whole year,” said Eberl, who is aiming for her maiden victory in Madrid. “I never knew which holes counted before but of course this week I know its 17 and 18. It’s just a par three and a par five. You just have to pick the right clubs and hole the putts. It was really good and today I had a great day.

“I came here to play well and today I had nine birdies, a double and two bogeys. Tomorrow I’ll just keep trying to hole the putts. I just had 23 putts and hit 10 greens so I had a good short game going in today. The plan for tomorrow is to stay calm and enjoy it. I’m probably going to play with Sophie and she’s a great player. I’ll just try to enjoy the atmosphere.”

Eberl’s start was phenomenal, birdieing four holes in a row from the third. Although she could not quite reproduce the scoring fireworks on the back nine, she finished strongly with birdies on the last two holes.

Denmark’s Iben Tinning signed for a flawless 68 which took her into a share of third with Sweden’s Linda Wessberg, who carded a 71.

British players Becky Brewerton (68), Lisa Hall (68), Lora Fairclough (69) and Laura Davies (69) shared fifth place on six-under-par. Davies was presented with a cake and champagne at the end of her round, to celebrate her 44th birthday.