Melissa Reid acnowledges the gallery during the second round of the Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters

England’s Melissa Reid held a one shot lead going into the final round of the Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters after firing a second round of five under par 67 at Albatross Golf Resort on Saturday.

Reid finished the first 36 holes with a total of nine under par and will now have her sights trained on a fourth Ladies European Tour victory.

Italian Stefania Croce (right) is congratulated on her 66 by her good friend Diana Luna

Italian Stefania Croce fired a bogey-free 66 and ended only one shot behind at eight under, followed a stroke further back by Germany’s Elisabeth Esterl.

Reid was at 10 under after carding six birdies in her first 12 holes but dropped a shot at the 17th.

The 24-year-old from Derbyshire birdied the second and then reeled off three birdies in a row from the seventh before picking up two more shots at holes 11 and 12.  

“I hit the ball good, didn’t really do much wrong. I lost a bit of concentration on 17. It’s a tough driving hole so I thought, I only had a sand wedge in my hand so thought I’d got it, so just a little bit of a lack of concentration, but  apart from that I played very, very solid,” said Reid.

“The first nine holes are very score-able. I’ve never seen the course before until yesterday but I think the course is absolutely fantastic. I think it’s in superb condition and it’s going to be one of my favourite courses of the year now.

“I think the last four or five holes are very good finishing holes. 17 and 18 are very, very tricky and definitely the hardest holes on the course, I would say. I just think it’s a difficult finish and if you par in the last four holes, I mean, you’re going to pick up at least one shot on the field.”

Reid is playing in her first tournament in six weeks since the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open after her mother, Joy, was killed in a car accident in Germany just before Reid was due to play in the UniCredit Ladies German Open.

“Obviously with what’s gone on and stuff I wasn’t really expecting much of this week so I worked very hard the last ten days to get myself in a bit of shape and it’s just nice to see that things are working out well. I just think I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m just going to go out and enjoy playing golf again.”

Croce, winner of the 1992 Ford Classic at Woburn, mastered the fine but windy conditions, with six birdies, spaced equally over the front and back nine. Birdies on the sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th, 13th and 15th helped her return the best score of the day.

Elisabeth Esterl poses after her round

“It was not easy because today was windy but I kept my concentration, I made some beautiful putts and I didn’t make many mistakes. The mistakes that I made, I recovered, so that was good, all birdies, no bogeys, so six under,” Croce said.

First-round co-leader Esterl, who opened with a 66, battled for a 71 to stay in the hunt and commented: “I found it a bit tougher and the hole was smaller today so I got a good back nine but I struggled on the front nine and the wind was a bit swirly. It got quite strong and the pins were a bit more tricky, I guess.

“Overall I fought back well. The second nine, I was quite pleased but it wasn’t quite as free as yesterday so I have to do a bit more work and maybe a few more beers tonight and get loosened up again for tomorrow. It’s been a long time and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m just going to go out and enjoy myself and add it up at the end.”

Fellow first round co-leader Veronica Zorzi of Italy lies at six under par alongside Australian Stacey Keating and England’s Rebecca Hudson, who put in an impressive round of 68.

Frenchwoman Sophie Giquel-Bettan carded a 67 and lies in a group one further back alongside South African Lee-Anne Pace and Italian Diana Luna.

However Frenchwoman Jade Schaeffer, the 2011 champion and local player Klara Spilkova were both on their way home after ending on a 36-hole total of three over par and missing the cut by a stroke.