Co-leader Lee-Anne Pace

Lee-Anne Pace and Celine Herbin will resume their head-to-head battle in the final round of the Open de España after the pair once again proved inseparable in the Spanish capital.

The South African and the Frenchwoman carded matching third round scores of four under 68 to move to 12 under and into a two stroke lead over Sweden’s Mikaela Parmlid with 18 holes to play at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid.

A stunning 66 on another scorching day enabled Parmlid to climb four places on the leader board into third place on her own, ensuring a final round date with Pace and Herbin in Sunday’s final three ball.

Herbin looked likely to be the outright leader going into the last round but a bogey on the 17th hole saw her drop into a tie for the lead and both players took pars on the final hole.

Herbin’s round was faultless up until that point with five birdies on the card and she signed for her third consecutive round of 68.

The 30-year-old from Avranches, who lives in Santander, Spain, has been playing with a ball marked with the number four and another four-under might be enough to see her claim her maiden LET win.

Herbin, whose caddie, Vicente, is Severiano Ballesteros’s brother, commented: “I’m very happy and very warm, because it was a long day, but I’m happy with my game. I hit 16 greens and had five birdies again, so just a little mistake, one bogey: a three putt, but generally I’m very happy with my putting. It’s getting better and better every day.”

Pace, a six-time tournament winner on the LET, had a bogey-free 68, with her four birdies on the front nine. “My consistency is one of my strong points and I don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Pace said. “If I do, it’s not a big mistake and I let the putts fall. I was okay in the beginning but seemed to lose concentration towards the end. I still played well and happy with where I am.”

Parmlid had a flawless 66 containing six birdies and said: “I hit the ball better today and had a really good start, with four birdies in a row. I felt calm. I think it was much hotter today and on 16 I had to pour water on my head to cool down.”

Carlota Ciganda, meanwhile, leads the home challenge after the Spaniard posted her own 66 to lie in a three-way share of eighth place, seven shots off the lead.

After two indifferent opening rounds, Ciganda called her coach on Friday evening and took some advice which paid off.

“I had more rhythm and more confidence today, finally: yes!” she told reporters. She birdied three of the four par 3s, which was the key to her score.