Fuller on the heels of Italy’s teenage sensation Nobilio who leads Girls’ centenary

ROEHAMPTON’S Annabell Fuller was the leading qualifier from the Home Nations during as the first phase of the centenary R&A Girls’ Amateur Championship, came to a close after 36 holes at Panmure.

The Surrey member of the Great Britain and Ireland Vagliano Trophy team, racked up five consecutive birdies from the sixth in her bid to keep pace with Alessia Nobilio, who showed why she is the highest-ranked player in the field for thwith a sterling performance at Panmure.

Fuller, who made her Curtis Cup debut against the USA last year bounced back from dropped shots on the 14th and 15th with a birdie on the 17th to card a five-under par 66.

It left 17-year-old Fulller, who also played in last year’s Junior Ryder Cup for Europe against the USA, in third position on six-under par overall.

But it was Italian Nobilio finished as the leading qualifier for the matchplay stage which gets under way on Thursday.

Fuller said: “I came straight back from America so I just wanted to play two solid rounds and get into the matchplay.

“It was good to build some confidence and it shows that I can play well round this golf course and hit good shots.

“Matchplay is completely different. You can go for more things and be a bit more aggressive here and there so it will be a lot of fun.”

The qualifiers will each be looking to follow in the footsteps of the four past champions in this event who were named in the European Solheim Cup team this week – Georgia Hall, Suzann Pettersen, Anna Nordqvist and Azahara Munoz.

Nobilio, who hails from Milan compiled a six-under-par round of 65 to move to 11-under for the championship and secure her place in the last 64, one shot ahead of her nearest rival Lucie Malchirand, from France.

Ranked sixth in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, Nobilio did not drop a shot in the two strokeplay rounds, and four birdies in her opening six holes in benign conditions at the challenging Angus links set her well on her way.

The winner of the Italian Ladies Strokeplay Championship and the Citta di Milano Trofeo Gianni Albertini – as well as being a member of the winning Continent of Europe Vagliano Team, at Royal St George’s, in June – picked up further shots on the 10th and 11th to coast home.

Nobilio said: “I’m very confident with my game right now because I have made two very low scores.

“But we all know that matchplay is completely different. You have to be focused on the course but also on the person you are playing against so it will be tough.

“We are all very good players and it will be a very good contest between us,” Nobilio added.

Malchirand, who led after the first round, also made a fast start with birdies at her opening two holes and eased to a three-under-par 68 for a ten-under-par total.

“My game was very nice today. I just missed some irons and that’s why I made some mistakes that I didn’t make yesterday (Tuesday),” said Malchirand.

“It’s nice to have qualified. I finished second before the cut and my objective is achieved so I’m really happy.

“Now it’s a new championship with new objectives and so I just have to change everything.”

Slovenia’s Pia Babnik, the Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open Champion, qualified comfortably with a three-under total of 139 following a one-over-par 72, which left her two shots clear of Germany’s Christin Eisenbeiss.

Broomieknowe’s Hannah Darling qualified as the leading Scot on level par after a two-over 72. The two-time Scottish Girls’ Amateur Champion traded four birdies with six bogeys.

The cut fell at nine-over-par with former champions Emilie Paltrinieri and Essex’s Lily May Humphries qualifying on three-over and seven-over respectively.

Each match will consist of one round of 18 holes including Saturday’s final. Admission and parking are free of charge for spectators visiting Panmure.

The winner will receive exemptions into the 2020 Womens Amateur Championship at Kilmarnock (Barassie) and the Augusta National Womens Amateur Championship.

Scoring from The R&A Girls Amateur Championship will be available here

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