Sharmila opens with a steady round of 72 in Tenerife

Tenerife (Spain): Sharmila Nicollet turned in a strong finish with two birdies in her last three holes to register an even par 72 in the opening round of the Tenerife Open de Espea Femenino at Golf Las Americas here.

Sharmila, who needs a few good finishes to ensure she keeps her Ladies European Tour card, was lying 40th after Thursday’s first round. Australian Nikki Garrett set a blistering pace as she opened with a career-low round of eight under par 64.

Sharmila started on the 10th and bogeyed the 11th, but she then parred the next 11 holes to be still at one-over after 13.

A second bogey on par-3 fifth put her two over, but she rallied with a birdie on par-5 seventh and another one on par-4 ninth, which was her closing hole. That put her at even par and the cut looked likely at one-over.

The 28-year-old Garrett was out in the first group from the 10th tee and played flawless golf on a beautiful day with temperatures at 27 degrees and little breeze.

Garrett birdied holes 11, 16 and 17 for a back nine total of three-under before picking up five more birdies on the front nine, closing with three in a row from the seventh.

The 46-year-old Trish Johnson, the 2010 Tenerife Ladies Open champion, was second at five-under after a 67 containing six birdies and one bogey. Italian Veronica Zorzi, South African Lee-Anne Pace and Germany’s Miriam Nagl carded four-under par 68s to share the third place.

Spain’s own Tania Elosegui and the 2010 Spanish Open champion Laura Davies was in a large group at three-under par.