Nicole Broch Larsen and Becky Morgan shot rounds of 68 and 70 respectively to share the lead heading into the final round of the Tipsport Golf Masters in the Czech Republic.
At 10 under par after 36 holes in scorching heat at Golf Park Pilsen, the pair are three strokes clear of a group of players on seven under par.
Both Broch Larsen and Morgan, who fired a course record equalling nine under par 62 in the first round on Friday, felt that they could have performed better on the greens.
Morgan, 40, from Wales, said: “I’m a little bit disappointed with how I finished as I three-putted the last, so that was a bit annoying. I had two three putts today. I didn’t hit it any better yesterday than today I just didn’t make any putts.”
“For me, it was just my putter,” said Broch Larsen, 22, from Denmark. “Minus three is always good but right now I’m just a little disappointed because I didn’t make the putts I wanted and I finished with a par on nine which is a great birdie opportunity but I’m still up there, so I’m happy.”
Broch Larsen is a second year Ladies European Tour (LET) member whose best finish on tour was third in this year’s Buick Championship in Shanghai, whereas Morgan is in her 15th year on tour and her career best result was second at the French Open as a rookie in 2001.
Broch Larsen won twice on the LET Access Series in 2013 but both players are looking for their first wins on the Ladies European Tour.
Broch Larsen said: “I’m going to play my chances and see where it takes me.”
Morgan, who is used to playing in hot conditions living in Florida, added: “I didn’t look at a leader board once today and I’m not going to so that this week.”
Lurking behind them are three of this year’s potential European Solheim Cup team members in Gwladys Nocera, Carlota Ciganda and Melissa Reid – who are all multiple tournament winners – and the LET’s leading rookie Nanna Koertz Madsen who equalled the course record at Turnberry in the final round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open last week.
Koertz Madsen, 22, from Denmark, won the LET’s Lalla Aicha Tour School in December and is playing to win. She said: “My game from tee to green is really good here. I’m struggling a bit with my putter but I’ve been playing some really good golf.”
Meanwhile Nocera, like many of the players, felt tired after playing in the heat of the afternoon in temperatures of 35C and was struggling to see after suffering an insect bite below the eye, but the recent Lalla Meryem Cup champion is already assured of her Solheim Cup place from the LET points list, set to be finalised on Sunday.
The European team will comprise four players from the points list, four players from the World Rankings and four captain’s picks.
Reid and Ciganda both have a chance to qualify on points ahead of fourth placed Anna Nordqvist if they finish eighth and second respectively, however if Reid wins and Ciganda is the runner-up, then they would also knock third placed Charley Hull out of the top four.
Reid, who played on the successful European team at Killeen Castle in Ireland in 2011, said: “I cancelled a trip to Ibiza, that’s what I’m gutted about, but this is the priority. I spoke to Carin a couple of weeks ago and said that I want to get in this team so I went to the practice on Monday to show that I’m committed.
“When you’re at a tournament you’re here to win so I’m not really thinking about eighth place.”
Ciganda, a star of the 2013 team in Colorado, where she posted a 100 per cent record, said: “I’m not thinking too much because there is also the Rolex Rankings and I’m also in there so if I play well it doesn’t matter if I don’t go through Europe, I think I can get in through the Rolex Rankings. I just came here because I wanted to play in Europe, get a bit of confidence back, because I haven’t been playing very good lately and I really like Europe, I like the courses here, so I’m happy to be back.”
Earlier in the day, Celine Herbin and Marta Sanz Barrio finished their rounds at six under par and they were later joined in a share of seventh by Lina Boqvist and Hannah Burke, who was eight under after 17 holes but found the sand and double bogeyed the 18th.
A stroke further back, Chloe Leurquin moved into a share of 11th place after an eight under par 63, which was the low round of the day.