Italy’s Federica Piovano

“I was struggling a little bit. My driving was okay but I only hit ten greens. I usually hit a lot of greens. I’m happy to see my name on the leaderboard and I’m going to try my best to keep it there.” Hauert is aiming for her maiden victory in her fourth season on the Ladies European Tour.

Piovano, 25, from Rome, had an even more mixed round of four birdies, two bogeys and a double at the par-three 11th hole, where she hit a faded tee shot into the water.

She had reached six-under-par after 10 holes but she then doubled the 11th and dropped a further shot at the last to join Hauert.

“I’m actually pretty excited about how I played,” said Piovano, who added a 72 to her opening 69.

“There were a lot of people cheering me on in Italian so I liked it. I went in the water on 11 as the result of a fade but these things happen. You’ve got to accept it and keep going.”

Piovano spent three days in bed before last week’s Spanish Open as a result of illness but has since recovered.

The 2005 Siemens Ladies Open Champion was in confident spirit and added: “I like this golf course and I can win here. I’m going to try.”

Piovano and Hauert finished one shot clear of joint overnight leader Frederique Seeholzer from Switzerland, who had a 74, and England’s Lora Fairclough, who had a 73.

Overnight co-leader Eleanor Pilgrim of Wales ended the day a shot further back on one-under after a 75 with Australia’s Shani Waugh (73) and New Zealend’s Liz McKinnon (73).

Australia’s Nikki Garrett, the fourth overnight co-leader, slipped back into a share of 17th position on one-over after a 77.

The 23-year old, who is chasing her third successive Ladies European Tour triumph after consecutive breakthrough victories at the Spanish and Tenerife Opens, posted one birdie, four bogeys and a double-bogey at the par-three 11th where her tee shot found the water.

She remained upbeat and said that she was not too far behind the leaders to recover over the weekend.

“I don’t think I’m going to be too far behind because it was quite tough out there today,” said Garrett, bidding to follow Marie-Laure de Lorenzi in 1989 as the only other player in the Tour’s history to win three consecutive events.

“The wind was swirly and if you didn’t hit a good shot you got penalised. I made the cut so I’m happy. That was my aim at the beginning of the week.”