American Lizette Salas shot a superb 2 under par 71 on a blustery Adelaide day to take a 2 stroke lead into tomorrow’s final round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Adelaide Golf Club.
The 27-year-old from the Southern Californian town of Azusa is known on the LPGA Tour for her consistency, and that has been the key this week as she carded her third consecutive under-par round today on a day when many struggled in the gusty winds.
While Salas, who has earned more than US$2.5million in prizemoney in her 5 year LPGA career, will sleep on a two-shot lead as she searches for her second LPGA title and her first outside of the USA, the Australian duo of Su Oh and Sarah Jane Smith, who both are very familiar with the Royal Adelaide layout will be sure to be there lurking should the leader slip up.
Oh played a superb round of golf today mixing 7 birdies with 2 bogeys in the extremely testing conditions and the Victorian was determined to stay focused on the job at hand rather than think about winning her National Championship.
“There are still 18 holes to go, I can’t quite think yet, but it’s my national title, so I really want to fight for it. It’s going to be tough but it would mean a lot. You can’t really put a word to that. It also would be my first win on the LPGA”
Oh had shown her tenacity the first 2 days having admitted to not having played her best golf and having made a call to her Dallas based coach Cameron McCormick earlier in the week.
“Yeah, I was quite, not nervous, probably is not the right word, but just really wanted to play well this week and I got a little frustrated in the practice rounds and just wasn’t quite settled. Last week I was fine. I thought Cam, I need to call you and he was on his way back from Riviera. I spoke to him and it was a really good conversation that we had.
The 20-year-old Victorian is no doubt one of the most talented youngsters on the LPGA Tour and her first LPGA title will surely not be too far away
For Queenslander Smith who played in the final pairing today's score was a little disappointing given her consistent ball-striking, but she was still happy and upbeat about her position heading into tomorrow's final round.
“It’s a little disappointing. I feel like I played pretty well. I made a lot of soft bogeys today, where I feel like today’s the day where if you made some bogeys you’d be okay. I had some pretty easy chips that I made some bogeys off of and hit a lot of good shots that I didn’t roll the putts in. They weren’t gimmies or anything like that, but a little extra pace and I might have had a few less. Hopefully we can get on top of that for tomorrow.”
When asked about her nerves today on the course the 32-year-old felt that she was in control from the get-go,
“I actually felt okay but then I put a horrific spin on the first one, so, maybe I didn’t feel as good as I thought! I was happy I hit a good shot on the first but obviously that green was tough to hit today. I was happy that I wasn’t out of control nervous. I feel like I handled the first couple of holes all right. I was a little nervous coming up 18, which was unusual, usually I’m okay once I’m out there but I guess it’s pretty big circumstances for me, so it was understandable, I guess"
“Being that I managed myself pretty well and I feel like we - not we, but I made a couple of mistakes and I think if I can tidy up my short game a little bit, then I should be pretty good”
Tied with Smith and Oh at 8 under par is Thai star Pornanong Phatlum, a 10-time international tournament winner ranked 44 in the world searching for her first official LPGA victory.
With 13 players within 5 shots of the lead heading into tomorrow’s final round the tournament is wide open given weather should be quite similar to today with strong south-westerly winds and cool temperatures forecast.
Of the other Australians in contention, Lee, Rebecca Artis and 20-year-old Hannah Green will both start the final round at three under par.
Play resumes tomorrow at 7.00am (Australian Central Daylight Time) at Royal Adelaide with the final group off at 1.10pm featuring Salas and Oh.
For 3rd round scores and tee-times go to http://alpg.com.au/tournament.php?id=4822&pid=1150&sec=lb
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