Photo courtesy of Photosport
Spain's Belen Mozo battled strong afternoon winds to shoot a 1 under par 71 today, and will take a one-shot lead into tomorrow's final round of the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women's Open at Windross Farms Golf Club in Auckland.
Mozo, who celebrated her 29th birthday in Auckland earlier this week started the third round with a 5 shot lead, and managed to hold on to shoot her third straight sub-par round with a group of the LPGA's finest chasing her.
Mozo has played 18 events on the LPGA Tour in 2017, with her best finish coming at the Manulife LPGA Classic in August where she tied for 28th place. She began this week 130th on the LPGA money list knowing that this was her final opportunity to keep her playing rights for next season with only the leading 80 players keeping full status for 2018.
Mozo’s one-under par 71 today has her sitting at 15-under par, one shot ahead Canadian star Brooke Henderson, with dual major winner Brittany Lincicome and China’s Jing Yan sharing third place on 11-under. A further shot back are a trio comprising Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe, Wales’ Amy Boulden and Thailand’s Thidapa Suwannapura.
Kiwi superstar and tournament host Lydia Ko managed a two-under par 70 to be in a share of 11th place on eight-under.
Henderson, who was outstanding around the greens today, fired a five-under 67 and is confident of her chances tomorrow.
“I am extremely happy with my 5-under especially with no bogies on the card because it was really tough conditions, with the wind really picking up especially on our back nine,”
“I am excited to be in the spot I am in right now and hopefully I can go out tomorrow and make a lot more birdies and see what happens.
“My chipping was probably the key today. I got up-and-down a bunch of times especially early in the round that kept me in it.”
Lincicome, who shot a third round 66 featuring four birdies and an eagle at the fifth, moved firmly into contention at 11-under par.
“It was great,” Lincicome said of her round. “It was a little bit windier than it had been the rest of the week but I made a lot of putts which was obviously great."
“Yesterday I was pressing too hard and gripping the putter too tight. Today I tried to take a lot of deep breaths and make nice smooth strokes and it paid off."
“I feel I am hitting the ball well and playing well. The golf course sets up for my game. I can bomb it on most holes and not get into too much trouble or I can hit three-wood and still get it down there. It just depends on the weather tomorrow.”
Unfortunately, the weather looks set to be a major factor heading into what is shaping as a thrilling final round tomorrow, with heavy rain followed by gale force winds forecast. The adverse forecast has seen the tournament organisers shift Sunday’s draw to a two-tee start.
Ko said the conditions will dictate her chances on the final day.
“I hear it could be pretty difficult conditions tomorrow so you just have to play patient when it is like that because it is so open that if the wind picks up it is not going to be easy,”
“The weather will really dictate tomorrow. If it rains then it can either make it softer or make the ball skid.”
Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, who fired a third round 67 to move into contention at seven-under, has pledged to donate her winnings from the event to aid earthquake victims in her homeland.
“I have committed to donating 100 per cent of my earnings this week to help Mexico and those who have lost their houses in the earthquake,” Lopez said. “The goal is to build 100 houses. Each will cost around US$10,000 and hopefully people can help us to raise lots of money for those in need.”
Su Oh remains the best of the Australians after shooting a 3 under 69 to be at 8 under par tied in 11th place, while Sarah Kemp is 6 under tied for 17th place.
The leading amateur is New Zealand's A-Yean Cho who is sitting at six-under par after an impressive three-under 69 today.
The 132-strong field this week is competing for the Bessie Fullerton-Smith Trophy, along with a share of the NZ$1.85 million prizemoney on offer, the richest purse on offer for a golf event in New Zealand.
Play will be from 2 tees tomorrow, with the final group teeing off at 9:57am
Live scoring and results can be found at nzwomensopen.com
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