Minjee Lee is right in contention at the U.S Women's Open. Photo: Getty
Aussies Minjee Lee and Sarah Kemp will have to catch IK Kim if they want to win the ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters.
Kim soared to a commanding four shot lead heading into Sunday after posting an equalling course record of nine-under-par 63 at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club on Saturday.
After searing heat for the first two rounds and heavy rain overnight, conditions were much more conducive to scoring for the third round on Saturday.
Rolex Ranked World No 24, Kim took advantage of the softer greens by posting nine birdies for a three-round total of 14-under-par. She ended four clear of the world’s number one amateur Lee, with Kemp and America Amelia Lewis a shot further behind in a tie for third.
“Condition wise it was a bit tricky today because it rained a lot last night. The greens were a little bit softer and I think that helped a bit too, scoring wise,” said Kim, 26.
“There was a little bit of luck there because on the front nine it poured for two holes but I was hitting wedge into the green so I was lucky that I was able to score well on those holes.”
Kim went out in 33 but came home in just 30 strokes. After making birdies on the second and sixth holes, she almost aced the par-three seventh when her ball almost pitched in the hole from 147 yards but she had to settle for a birdie from 11 feet.
On the back nine, she birdied holes 10, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 17 and made a terrific par on 16 after drawing an 8-iron shot around a tree.
There was another bogey-free round from Lee, a protégé of the defending champion Karrie Webb, who had five birdies in a 67. Lee said: “It was pretty stress free and no bogeys and I gave myself a lot of opportunities. I missed a couple and made some. I can improve on it so I’m looking forward to it tomorrow. The greens were really soft and I could get to the front pins so that helped for everyone. It only rained for one hole for me and the weather was perfect for golf.”
For overnight leader Kemp is was a tough day, however she fought very hard and two birdies in her last five holes has given her a chance to win on Sunday.
Germany’s Caroline Masson and another Australian Nikki Campbell share fifth place on eight-under-par, with Australian Sarah-Jane Smith, South Africans Stacey Lee Bregman and Lee-Anne Pace and Scotland’s Sally Watson a stroke further behind. This group will have to go very low to have a chance.
The other Aussie amateur in the field, Su-Hyan Oh is tied for 14th at five-under after posting a six-under-par round of 66. It was an incredible round and could have been three shots better. The talented Victorian went out in 31 after six birdies and one bogey in her opening nine holes. Another three birdies on the back were offset by two more birdies.
The defending champion Karrie Webb three-putted the last for a 70, which left her 11 strokes off the lead in a share of 20th position. Compatriot Stephanie Na (72) is one of the players tied for 20th with Webb. Rebecca Artis (73) is tied for 45th place at four-over, whilst Nikki Garrett (73) is two shots further back and shares 57th place. Bree Arthur (75) is the final Aussie in the field and she is at seven-over and tied for 63rd.