Local favourite Stacey Keating made a decisive move during the third round of the Women’s Victorian Open and will take a commanding four shot lead into the final round being played on the Beach Course at 13th Beach Golf Links.
The 26-year-old from Cressy sits at the top of the leaderboard at 15-under-par, with Victorian amateur Grace Lennon leading the chasing pack at 11-under-par. Western Australian Kristie Smith is outright third at 10-under.
Keating, who started the day at nine-under-par and one shot behind 36 hole leader, Sarah Jane Smith, go off to a perfect start with a birdie at the 1st. She then added another four birdies on the front nine, on the 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th holes to go out in a bogey free 32.
The two-time winner on the LET started the back nine with the same momentum picking up a birdie to move to 15-under-par. Her only blemish came on the par 5 11th, where she recorded a bogey. Pars then followed for the next six holes before she birdied the par 5 18th to post the equal low round of the day for the women of six-under-par 68.
Keating didn’t know that she was the leader when she finished as she was trying to not look at the leaderboards and remain focussed. It will be the first time she will hold the lead heading into the final round. She loves the nerves that comes with contending.”
“I won’t be changing anything, I will keep doing what I am doing and see what happens.”
“There will be extra pressure tomorrow but I have to deal with that.”
Her experience of being in contention will also help, “Each time you are in contention it get easier but you are never really comfortable.” Keating said to the press afterwards.
The crowds have been fantastic this week and when asked about it she mentioned the size of her local support was about half today because it was bowls day in her home town and that comes first, she said laughing. Appreciative of the support, Keating said, “It is great to have so many people out here in general, and a lot that I know.”
For Lennon, this is unfamiliar territory, “I’m very happy, it was a good day today, I played quite well. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, I’m going to take it one shot at a time.” Lennon said.
Another player that Keating will have to watch is Smith who stormed home in 2010 with a final round of nine-under-par, 64, to capture the ACTEWAGL Royal Canberra Ladies Classic title.
“I think I will have to go low considering where Stacey is at the moment. I left a few shots out there today. I’ve given myself a chance going into tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.” Smith said.
Overnight leader Sarah Jane Smith (75), England’s Laura Davies (71), ACT’s Nikki Campbell (71) and American Heather Bowie Young (72) share fourth position at nine-under. South Australian Tamie Durdin (72), England’s Hannah Burke (71), American Lacey Agnew (73) and Western Australian Jessica Speechley (74) are a further shot adrift.