Those who doubt India’s future in golf should find the first-round leaderboard of the Ladies European Tour Q-School very interesting.
Sharmila Nicollet shares the first-round lead alongside Chrisje de Vries of the Netherlands after both players returned 5-under scores. Nicollet is conspicuous by her presence in the field: she is the only Indian player at Q-School.
Indeed, Nicollet is making her first trip to Spain, and her first visit to the LET Q-School. She didn’t suffer from opening night nerves as she stepped out on the South Course at La Manga, Spain. Nicollet had four birdies, one bogey and an eagle in her 68, a round that only saw her use her putter 29 times.
“This is my first experience here in Spain and at the qualifiers,” said the 20-year-old from South of Bangalore. “The whole of India is behind me. I am the only Indian to qualify so a lot of motivation and pressure got me through.
“I love Europe and want to play here so that motivates me. I’m in my comfort zone in India so I need to test myself. Playing 5-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.
“I’m very comfortable with my driving and putting, but putting was probably my strength today. I holed a lot of medium range putts. I started birdie, birdie, birdie, and I was four under after five.”
Nicollet is mixing with pretty strong company. Among those chasing LET cards are the likes of former Ladies’ British Amateur champion Carlota Ciganda of Spain, LPGA winners Heather Bowie Young and Meaghan Francella of the United States, current English Amateur champion Lucy Williams, and former Great Britain & Ireland Curtis Cup players Jodi Ewart, Carly Booth, Clare Queen, Martina Gillen, Pamela Pretswell and Lynne Kenny.
Twenty-seven countries are represented in the field of 101, with 16 players from the United States alone.
The 90-hole Q-School consists of 36 holes over both La Manga’s North and South courses 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, with the top 30 players earning membership for the 2012 Ladies European Tour.