La Manga (Spain): India's Sharmila Nicollet kept up the tempo as she ran away with three birdies in a row on the front nine to take sole lead at the midway stage of the second round of the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School Final Stage on Monday.

Sharmila, who shot a stunning five-under 68 on the par-73 South Course was one-under through the second round at the same resort at the La Manga Club in Spain.

Sharmila, who was playing at the par-71 North Course on Monday had bogeys on second and fourth holes to fall behind.

But she quickly regained her composure and birdied fifth, sixth and seventh in quick succession and then parred the eighth and ninth to turn in one-under.

At a six-under total, she was now in sole lead.
Dutch golfer Chrisje de Vreis, the co-leader overnight fell behind as she was one-over through nine and she was at four-under.

Behind Sharmila was another Dutch player, Marjet Van der Graaf, who had rounds of 71 (South Course) and 68 (North Course) to be five-under for two rounds.

On the opening day on Sunday, Sharmila was off to a flying start with a round of five-under 68.

The 20-year-old Sharmila had shared the lead with Chrisje de Vries, who carded five-under 66 at the par-71 North Course.

Sharmila had seven birdies and two bogeys for an opening 68 on the South Course while De Vries had four birdies, one bogey and an eagle two at the ninth hole in a 66 on the North Course.

Sharmila, 20, from south Bengaluru, said that she felt confident after shooting her best score in Europe.

"This is my first experience here in Spain and at the qualifiers. The whole of India is behind me. I am the only Indian to qualify so a lot of motivation and pressure got me through," she said.

Sharmila, the lone Indian in this field of 101 golfers, had a sensational start with three birdies on the trot after starting from the tenth tee.

She added a fourth birdies on her fifth hole, the 14th of the course.
Despite dropping a shot on 17th she turned in three-under, even as her playing partners, Carmen Alonso (76) and Sara Wikstrom (79) were struggling.

On her second nine, the front half of the course, Sharmila sank birdies on the fourth, sixth and eighth and dropped a shot on fifth to end the day at a stunning 68 on the tough course.

"I love Europe and want to play here so that motivates me to want to play here. I'm in my comfort zone in India so I need to test myself. Playing five under par amongst the top players has boosted my confidence for the last few days.

"I'm in good form and my game is good so that pretty much sums up my feelings. The weather was perfect and it was the best time to play so I’m loving everything."

The 90-hole Final Qualifying School is being played over the resort’s two world-class courses, the North and the South, for the first four rounds with a cut to the leading 50 players and ties after 72 holes.

The fifth round will be played on the South Course on Thursday and the top 30 players will earn LET Membership in category 8a.

(Agencies)