|‘Local’ player Valentine Derrey|
The sun was shining for French trio Valentine Derrey, Joanna Klatten and Gwladys Nocera in the third round of the LACOSTE Ladies Open de France on Saturday as they finished tied at the top on 10-under-par.
After another day of scorching temperatures and sunny skies, the stage is set for an epic final round battle in the Basque Country as three Frenchwomen lead their home championship for the first time in recent history.
The trio are trailed by Spanish Solheim Cup stars Azahara Munoz and Carlota Ciganda, at nine and eight-under-par respectively, with fellow European team member Charley Hull of England and South African Lee-Anne Pace also just two shots behind the leaders on eight-under-par.
Klatten and Nocera, tied for the lead on 10-under overnight, both had level par rounds of 70 and were joined in the lead by Derrey, who shot a three-under 67 on the Chantaco course, where she was a member as a child. Derrey, who now lives just across the river in Ciboure, spent many summers playing at the venue and will benefit from local knowledge.
Although she bogeyed the first hole, she fired four birdies in the next six holes and then carded 11 steady pars to stay in contention for her first title in three seasons on the LET.
A winner of the 2011 Tate & Lyle Players Championship on the Symetra Tour, Derrey said: “I played pretty solid. My game is here and I’m putting solid as well so I’ll see what I can do tomorrow. I’m just trying to focus on myself and play my own game and see what happens on 18.”
After Nocera birdied the second, she held the advantage through the turn, but Klatten birdied nine to get one behind. Nocera’s back nine was less solid and she found the sand left of the 10th green resulting in a bogey. After she took another bogey on 11, Klatten holed a sliding three-foot putt for birdie and took the outright lead.
However both women dropped shots on 14, before Nocera joined the French pair on 10-under with a birdie on 15.
A five-metre birdie putt on 17 gave Nocera the outright lead, but she then three-putted from inside three metres on the par-four 18th to lose her advantage.“I didn’t play really well today. I couldn’t find my rhythm and I hit everything too soft. I was too far away from the pin, missed a few fairways and had terrible lies all the time,” said Nocera, who won her 11th LET title three months ago in Slovakia. “It’s good because I turned it around and I started to play well around 15, 16 and I misread a putt on 18. It’s too bad. A three metre putt and I take three putts: it’s too much!”
After two bogeys in her first six holes, Klatten found her rhythm with three birdies through the turn but was disappointed to have dropped a shot on 14 and three-putted the short par-five 15th.
After a career-best finish of third in Spain three months ago, Klatten is gunning for her first LET victory and said: “I’m pretty happy with my position. I was off to a shaky start: two over after two holes and managed to grind in there. I didn’t have my A game today but that happens.”
England’s Liz Young is also targeting her first victory. She shot a five-under 65 to move up into eighth place on seven-under-par after four birdies over the last five holes. Australians Sarah Kemp and Nikki Campbell are a stroke further behind.
Spectators at the venue and viewing live on television are in for a treat on Sunday with three French players playing together in the last group at 11.45am. The penultimate group is also a feast for golf fans with three of Europe’s victorious Solheim Cup team playing together from 11.35am.