Two Scandinavian players head a star-studded leaderboard going into the final round of the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie.
Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Nanna Koerstz Madsen from Denmark share the lead on nine-under-par after impressive rounds in challenging, wet conditions in Angus.
Nordqvist signed for a best-of-the-week score of seven-under-par 65 to surge through the international field, while Koerstz Madsen added a third-round 68 for her nine-under total.
Nordqvist was in sparkling form in her bogey-free round, which was kick-started with three birdies in a row from the sixth. The 34-year-old, a past winner of the R&A Girls’ and Women’s Amateur Championships, has enjoyed local support given her partner is a Scot, Kevin McAlpine.
While Nordqvist is chasing a third major title, Koerstz Madsen, 26, is seeking the biggest win of her career and highlighted her round with an eagle at the par-5 12th.
The USA’s Yealimi Noh had reached 10-under-par only to drop four shots over Carnoustie’s demanding last three holes, meaning the consistent Lizette Salas is the nearest challenger to the top two after the American added a 70 for an eight-under-par total.
Four players are placed on seven-under-par, including Scottish amateur Louise Duncan after the 21-year-old Women’s Amateur champion continued her dream week after a superb 68.
Nordqvist won the Smyth Salver as leading amateur at the Championship in 2008, with Duncan in pole position for that honour as well as chasing the title itself.
World number 12 Lexi Thompson, Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen and Madelene Sagstrom from Sweden are also placed on seven-under-par, with world number one Nelly Korda, Brooke Henderson, Georgia Hall and the Jutanugarn sisters, Ariya and Moriya, among those threatening on six-under.
Mina Harigae, Hall's playing partner in the final group, slipped back to three-under with a 76.
“I feel like I've been playing really solid this week and last week at the Scottish Open I hit the ball really well, so I think it's been coming together for a while. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens today which gave me a lot of good chances.
“I made a few good putts out there, especially on eight, a longer one, and I had to stay patient around the turn. I had good chances on nine, 10, 12 and 13, I feel like all were inside 12 feet, and then I didn't make any. It was nice to finish with a birdie on 15 and 17. I’m very happy with my round and feel like I've been staying patient this week and just letting it come to me instead of trying to force it.”
Nanna Koerstz Madsen
“I've just got to try and calm down my nerves and remember that I'm playing good golf right now, so that's what I'm going to try and focus on. I played quite steady out there. I hit a lot of greens. I would have liked some to have been closer to the pin but I also made some good putts. I'm happy with the round.”
“I think at some point we were going to have to mentally prepare for conditions like this and I think it really forced me to go back to boring golf instead of trying to be aggressive. I think the wet conditions really kind of settled everything. I got off to a little shaky start and after the bogey on the fifth I think the momentum switched and I was able to hit really good shots coming down the stretch to give myself good looks.”
“We got the first nine in great weather, not too much wind really the whole day, and we were unfortunate with the rain coming in, but you expect that coming over here. It's a demanding golf course in general. You have to hit those tee balls and trust those lines out there, really play for those bounces around the green and trust those golf shots. Putting weather into play makes it more difficult and you just have to stay in the moment and focus on one shot at a time.”
“My putting has been key for me this week. My putting has been really solid and just all my game, really. I’ve hit the ball great and drove the ball really nicely. Obviously, I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow. Carnoustie has a record for disasters! I think it's been great for the three amateurs (Duncan, Annabell Fuller and Lauren Walsh) that got through to the weekend. I think it's given us a good bit of confidence going down to the Curtis Cup next week.”