DUBLIN, IRELAND (Saturday 27th June 2009) – Italian Diana Luna came a step closer to earning her second Ladies European Tour victory on Saturday, taking a one shot lead into the final round of the AIB Ladies Irish Open, supported by Failte Ireland.
Luna carded four birdies and one bogey for a three-under-par 69 at Portmarnock Hotel and Links, near Dublin.
Her seven-under total took her one clear of Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson and Melissa Reid from England. First round co-leader Julie Greciet from France remained on five-under one shot back, along with Florentyna Parker, a German-born English rookie, sharing fourth.
Luna, the 2004 Tenerife Ladies Open champion, said: “I stayed very calm and patient today, all the way round. I mean, this is a course that needs to accept every single shot-because, of course, links courses get some bounces.”
With a chance to win for the first time in five years, she was keen to improve on her second place finish the ABN AMRO Ladies Open in the Netherlands three weeks ago, when she lost out by a stroke to Tania Elosegui from Spain.
“I’m playing very good and I just want to keep going and enjoy myself. It’s wonderful weather and we’re so lucky to be here on this wonderful course,” she said.
Reid, who is third on the LET’s Henderson Money List after three top three finishes in four starts this season, hopes to secure her maiden professional victory.
She has finished second four times already since turning professional at the beginning of last year and said: “I don’t want to finish second again so we’ll need to shoot low tomorrow.”
Gustafson, a three-time Irish Open winner, having won the event in 1998 at Ballyliffin, in 2000 at Faithlegg and at Killarney Golf and Fishing Club, otherwise known as Mahoney’s Point, in 2003, has a strong track record on Irish soil. She also won the 2000 World Cup at Adare Manor along with Carin Koch. In Nothern Ireland, she won the BT Irish Open in 2003.
The 22-time tournament winner carded a sensational 67 on Saturday, her seven birdies only countered by a double bogey at the ninth hole.
She said she enjoys Ireland. “The people and the atmosphere are so great. We always play great courses; links is my favourite,” she said.
Parker continued her form from the Portugal Ladies Open a fortnight ago, when she posted a career best finish of equal fifth, but was disappointed to have four-putted for a double bogey at the eighth.
Scottish rookie Krystle Caithness, Welsh Solheim Cup star Becky Brewerton and last year’s number one Gwladys Nocera from France shared sixth on four-under, with Spain’s Paula Marti and last year’s runner-up Marianne Skarpnord of Norway a shot further back in a tie for ninth place.
Five Irish players made the cut, with amateur Danielle McVeigh leading the way in joint 19th on level par. The Royal County Down player watched as her Vagliano team mate Jodi Ewart from England holed-in-one with a seven-iron at the 158-yard par-three third hole, before sinking her own ace. It was the third hole-in-one at the same hole in two days. However team-mates Leona and Lisa Maguire, hugely popular in Ireland, missed the cut. They both shot the same score in the second round: six-over 78.