An ecstatic Louise Duncan revelled in the backing of the home crowd after her dream week at Carnoustie continued with another outstanding performance in round three.
The reigning Women’s Amateur Champion enhanced her chances of completing a remarkable double triumph by shooting a four-under 68 on Saturday.
At seven-under for the Championship, the 21-year-old trails leaders Anna Nordqvist and Nanna Koerstz Madsen by just two shots and will play in the third-last group in the final round.
“It’s not really sunk in, to be honest. I don’t really know what I’ve just done. I just really enjoyed it out there,” said Duncan after matching the opening-day score that thrust her into the limelight.
After surging into contention with the aid of five birdies, Duncan fired a stunning approach into the final hole and was afforded a rapturous reception as she crossed the Barry Burn.
“It was special. It doesn’t get much better than that, really,” she added.
“To come over that bridge, it was all very surreal and I loved every moment of it. It felt great, to have everyone supporting me and cheering me on like that is just phenomenal, and I couldn’t thank everyone enough
“My phone’s been going absolutely mental, along with my socials as well. It’s great to have all the support and have all of Scotland behind me.”
Another standout moment for Duncan came on the 15th, where she holed a lengthy birdie putt to the delight of the spectators gathered around the green.
“I’d missed a couple of relatively short ones the past two holes for birdies, so I felt like I was kind of due a long one,” she explained.
Duncan is firmly on course to claim the Smyth Salver after opening up a commanding lead over the two other amateurs to make the cut, Lauren Walsh and Annabell Fuller.
Yet an even bigger prize could yet come Duncan’s way on Sunday as she seeks to become the first amateur to win the AIG Women’s Open since Marta Figueras-Dotti at Royal Birkdale in 1982.
The youngster knows she will be nervous as she chases victory, but the events of the last three days provide her with increased belief.
“It gives me a bit of confidence, to know that I actually can go out there and play well on a big stage in front of quite a few folk,” she added.
“I wouldn’t say (I feel) pressure, but I’d definitely say nerves. I’ve spoken about it all week.
“They’re definitely there and they still are there. I don’t think they’ll go away tomorrow either. Just being able to handle it, taking a few deep breaths before every shot has really helped.”