Indian teenager Aditi Ashok and young gun Nanna Koerstz Madsen from Denmark share the lead on 12-under-par heading into the final round of the Qatar Ladies Open at Doha Golf Club.
Ashok is targeting back-to-back victories following her maiden win at the Hero Women’s Indian Open a fortnight ago, while Madsen is also looking for her second Ladies European Tour title after claiming her first win at the Tipsport Golf Masters in Pilsen in June.
The pair are a stroke ahead of Becky Morgan from Wales, with England’s Annabel Dimmock a stroke further behind in fourth place and fellow Welshwoman Lydia Hall alone in fifth on nine-under-par.
Ashok made a strong start with three birdies in her first seven holes and added further birdies at the 10th and 14th before carding a pair of bogeys on the 15th and 17th, which allowed Madsen to catch her. The duo then matched each other with birdies on the long 18th, the talented teen holing a putt of six yards for a round of 68.
“It was quite windy in the morning so I knew I had to be sharp with my approaches and I had a few birdie chances which I made, so that start was good,” said Ashok, who is the LET’s leading rookie after her win in India.
“On the back nine, I just didn’t hit as good shots as I was hitting on the front nine and I miscalculated the wind a couple of times as well. I made a lot of putts on the front nine, so I was bound to miss a couple. I finished with a birdie, so it was good.
“It’s great to be in contention, the week after a win. I’m really happy with the way I’m playing this week. I played with Nanna today and she’s an aggressive player as well, so it will be fun tomorrow.”
Madsen appeared frustrated as she made a run of nine straight pars going out, but she picked up the pace with four birdies and a bogey coming home in a round of 69.
“The front nine, I just didn’t hit it close enough so I didn’t give myself the birdie chances I needed. On the back nine, I had a few more chances which I made, so that was good,” said Madsen, a second year member of the Ladies European Tour.
“On 18, it was lucky that my second shot didn’t go into the water. I was just happy that I didn’t have to take a drop. It’s better to be tied for the lead than be one behind, but either is okay.”
Morgan moved right into contention for a first professional title when she fired eight birdies against two dropped shots in a 66.
“I played well today and got off to a really good start. I dropped a couple late on the front nine and played the back nine really well. I putted well. The last few days I haven’t made many putts from six to 15 feet. I hit some close but I made some good 10 footers.
“There are a couple of par-5s and 16 is a driveable par-4. If you hit the fairway then you’ve got some good scoring opportunities,” she said.
Frenchwoman Jade Schaeffer, a two-time winner on the LET, climbed from 35th place overnight into a share of sixth with Linda Wessberg after a tournament low-round of 65.
“I played well and made a lot of putts. I just enjoyed it because I made the cut, so now I’m a little bit more free, because I’m staying on the Ladies European Tour next year,” explained Schaeffer, who swapped her stylish bucket hat for a baseball cap on day three.
“I didn’t put my usual hat on today because it was raining, but you will see it again!” she said after signing her score card.
The start of the third round was delayed by two hours and 40 minutes due to lightning and heavy rain in Doha, but the skies quickly cleared and play was under way by 10am.