Two-time Italian Open champion Iben Tinning

(MILAN, ITALY – Thursday 15th October 2009) — Iben Tinning and Caroline Afonso share the lead after the first round of the Carta Si Ladies Italian Open in Milan.

The duo are tied on five-under 67 at Golf Club Le Rovedine, with a one shot lead over Marianne Skarpnord, who claimed her maiden title earlier this year in Switzerland.

Denmark’s Tinning, twice an Italian Open champion, in 2002 and 2005, carded a round of 67 which included four birdies, a bogey and an eagle. The former European number one put herself in contention for her first tournament win on the Ladies European Tour since the 2005 Nykredit Masters in Denmark. She went out in 36 but came back in 31. She picked up four shots over her last five holes, knocking in an eagle putt from 24 feet at the par-five 15th hole.

“I think the greens were good even though I was out in the afternoon. The front nine played more difficult than the back nine but I stuck to my plan, played easy on some holes and attacked on others and it worked out well. I’m very happy with the way I played,” said Tinning, a five-time winner on the LET.

She is working with Melissa Reid’s regular caddie Paul Vincent-Fernie this week, with whom she finished second at the Finnair Masters in late August.

She added: “I played well when we worked together in Finland and I like his company. We understand each other and we are working together in China and Korea as well.”

Second year player Afonso, from France, was aiming for her first victory following a round which included five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle.

The players made the most of the cool but bright weather conditions. Norway’s Skarpnord made par at each of her opening 10 holes on a crisp, autumnal morning, but managed four birdies, with three in a row from the 11th, over the closing nine holes.

Becky Brewerton from Wales is two shots off the pace at three under along with Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera, Scotland’s Clare Queen and Australian Bronwyn Mullins-Lane.

Italians Diana Luna, Stefania Croce, Anna Rossi and Giulia Sergas were locked in a seven-way share of eighth place with England’s Laura Davies and Spaniards Tania Elosegui and Laura Cabanillas at two under par.

American Solheim Cup star Christina Kim is in a tie for 32nd place after an opening round of 73.

Second round play begins at 7.45am on Friday, with a cut to the leading 50 players and ties after 36 holes.