Caroline Masson of Germany will go into the final round of the ISPS HANDA Ladies European Masters holding a two stroke lead over Thai pair Titiya Plucksataporn and Nontaya Srisawang.
Masson conjured up five birdies and one bogey on the first nine holes in the third round at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club before making another birdie on the 15th.
The 26-year-old from Gladbeck finished on 12 under par and in the hunt for her second Ladies European Tour title after the 2012 South African Women’s Open as many of her closest competitors struggled in the gusty conditions on the back nine.
English pair Alex Peters and Charley Hull, in first and second position overnight, both carded 77s to slip into a tie for ninth and 18th respectively.
However Australian Rebecca Artis expertly plotted her way to a 66 and shares fourth place with the Xiamen Open champion Ssu-Chia Cheng of Chinese Taipei and Ireland’s world number one amateur Leona Maguire.
Masson, a member of Europe’s winning Solheim Cup team in 2013, is hoping to be playing in the tournament on her home soil in September and needs to put in a solid performance to impress captain Carin Koch.
“Of course I want to make the team and it’s a great chance for me to present myself. Obviously on a course that I really like and I’ve had two really good finishes here in the last two years,” said Masson, who finished third in 2013 and tied for third in 2014. “I’ve been playing well and I haven’t been scoring well but I’ve managed to turn it around in the last few days and I’m super happy about that.”
Meanwhile the Thai pair had the benefit of practising hard in Oxfordshire with their coach John Cook over the last week. They are both searching for their maiden victories on the Ladies European Tour after several chances.
Plucksataporn said: “I hit a lot of fairways today and my game plan was try to hit fairways, greens and then putt. I could make a lot of putts and up and downs so it was fantastic today.”
Srisawang added: “I feel really good this week. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and playing with my friend.”
Final round play gets under way at 9.40am on Sunday with the leading trio starting at 2.04pm.