Anna Nordqvist and Nanna Koerstz Madsen share the lead heading into the final round of the AIG Women’s Open as Louise Duncan maintained her bid for a fairytale home win at Carnoustie.
Nordqvist powered into the lead with a superb best-of-the-day 65, completing her bogey-free third round just as the rain increased in intensity and made for an uncomfortable final few holes for the later starters.
AIG Women’s Open, Carnoustie
They included overnight joint-leader Georgia Hall, who slipped to six under after struggling to a one-over 73, although the 2018 champion remains one of 14 players separated by just three strokes at the top of a congested leaderboard – a group that also includes Nelly Korda.
Nordqvist will start the final round as the bookies’ favourite to land a third major title, as well as cementing a seventh consecutive appearance for Team Europe at the Solheim Cup, with the Swede navigating her way around the iconic Angus links with the minimum of fuss.
The Swede’s outward 32 featured three consecutive birdies from the sixth, and she picked up three more shots in a decisive four-hole stretch from the 14th before a solid closing par ensured the best round of the Championship.
“I feel like I’ve been playing really solid this week,” said the 34-year-old, whose last victory was at the Evian Championship almost four years ago. “Last week at the Scottish I hit the ball really well, so I think it’s been coming together for a while.
“I was just very steady, hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens today. That gave me a lot of good chances and that’s going to be the difference. I made a few good putts out there, especially on eight, a longer one, and I had to stay patient around the turn.
“So I’m very happy with my round and feel like I’ve been staying patient this week and just letting it come to me instead of trying to force it.”
Madsen booked a place alongside Nordqvist in Sunday’s final pairing after carding an eagle and three birdies in her 68, while Lizette Salas installed herself as the leading American challenger after she recovered from a poor start to grind out a 70.
Salas moved to eight under and one ahead of compatriot Lexi Thompson, Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen, Swede Madelene Sagstrom and an inspired Duncan, who stayed in the hunt to become the first amateur to lift the title since 1982.
“It feels great,” said the 21-year-old Scot, who rolled in her sixth birdie putt of another impressive day to cap her second 68 of the week. “I played well out there, and to be sitting only two shots behind, it feels great. I can’t wait to get going tomorrow.
“I’ve spoken about the nerves all week, and they are definitely there and they still are there. I don’t think they will go away tomorrow, either. So just being able to handle it, take a few deep breaths over every shot has really helped.”
Duncan prompted the loudest cheers of the day when her putt on the 18th dropped for a closing three, and she added: “It felt a bit surreal, I almost didn’t hear it! I don’t know what I was thinking but didn’t hear it.
“So it would be great to watch the footage back and just be able to relive that for the rest of my life, it’s been great, and all the support out there has been fantastic.”
Sagstrom’s 69 included an astonishing run of six birdies in seven holes, punctured by a double-bogey six at the ninth when it took her two attempts to escape a fairway bunker, although her first splash-out was interrupted by a blast of the horn from a passing train on her backswing.
The 28-year-old, who played the first two rounds with European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, parred the final seven holes to stay within two shots of the leaders, with Hall a further stroke adrift along with both Jutanugarn sisters and world No 1 Korda, who maintained her bid for a second major win of the year with a four-birdie 70.
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August 22, 2021, 12:00pm
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