Sharmila, Smriti close to qualifying

Sharmila Nicollet and Smriti Mehra moved within one round of making the final stage of the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School on Wednesday.

Sharmila Nicollet swings one in style

The lanky India No. 1, Sharmila Nicollet, shot one of the best rounds in the field, carding two-under 69 and was eight-over for 54 holes and moved to tied 27th in Group A after the third round of the pre-qualifiers at the La Manga Golf Resort in Spain.

Smriti Mehra, meanwhile, was lying tied 38th, despite a third round 77 after first two rounds of 75 and 78. She was 11-over for three rounds.

The top 35 and ties from both groups advance to the Final Stage, from where top-30 will make the Ladies European Tour card.

Rhea Nair, who was the best-placed Indian at the midway stage, carded 82 in third round and dropped to tied 50th at 14-over in Group B. Nalini Singh Siwach shot 76 and at 17-over she was tied 59th Neha Tripathi (77) was 34-over and way down in tied 93rd.

Sharmila, who has been No. 1 in India for the past two years, started the day at 10-over. She began brilliantly with two birdies on the first two holes, and had a bogey on the fourth. She birdied fifth and eighth and bogeyed the ninth. Turning in two-under, she parred all the nine holes on the back nine for a 69 that gave her a superb chance of qualifying for the Final Stage.

Smriti Mehra may well have been in the top-20, but for a disastrous five-over eight on the par-3 12th. She ended with a 77 with four birdies and four bogeys. At tied 38th, she will need to get into top-35 to make the final stage.

The Pre-Qualifying have been split into Group A and B with top 35 and ties in both groups going through to the 90-hole Final Stage, where they will be a cut for leading 50 and ties after 72 holes. After the final round, the top 30 players will be eligible for Membership to the main LET Tour. All players play at both North and South courses.

A total of 211 players from 44 countries have entered LET Qualifying School, to be played over two stages with the Pre-Qualifying from January 8-11, followed by Final Qualifying from January 15-19.

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