Anne Van Dam from the Netherlands rattled off five birdies in a 67 on day three of the Xiamen International Ladies Open in China to catch Chinese teenager Yuting Shi heading into the final round.
Locked at 13-under-par, the pair are two ahead of Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, while fellow Thai player Ajira Nualraksa is three strokes further back alongside Liu Yan of China (below).
With her breakthrough win on the Ladies European Tour in prospect, Van Dam’s confidence is high and the 21-year-old from Arnhem said: “Perhaps I’m over the jet lag.”
She began her third round with a nerveless birdie on the first hole and added another at the fourth. A run of seven straight pars then preceded three birdies in a row from the 12th hole, establishing a one stroke advantage. Shi, however, birdied the 16th and 17th to go one ahead before three-putting at the par-4 18th for her first bogey in 54 holes.
Van Dam, who is ranked second in driving distance amongst the regular Ladies European Tour players, explained the momentum charge on the back nine after she hit a confident drive down the par-5 12th fairway. “On 12, I hit it twice in the water on day one and day two and I just took my driver again and it was a good one,” she said. “I hit it on the green with my second shot and I had two good putts. The first almost went in for eagle, so that was a very easy birdie. On 13, I hit my wedge to four or five metres and holed a good downhill putt. On 14, I was 40 metres away from the pin and had a good pitch, expected it to go closer, but it was around one and a half metres and I holed that.”
Van Dam’s best finish in two years on the LET is 12th, at the 2015 Helsingborg Open which she followed up in February with a tie for 12th at the RACV Ladies Masters. She has shown flashes of brilliance with two rounds of six-under and has won twice on the LET Access Series: at the 2015 HLR Golf Academy Open in FInland and at the Citizenguard LETAS Trophy in Belgium in July.
She continued: “Any kind of pressure is something. I wouldn’t say it’s the same, but it’s definitely an advantage. I thought I would be nervous today but I walked to the first tee and was pretty relaxed. I made a birdie and from there I played quite well. My game feels quite good and because of that I don’t need to be really nervous. I’m looking forward to playing tomorrow again.”
China’s Shi started the day with a three stroke lead but made only one birdie on the front nine and her scores of 65-68-70 have increased daily. The 18-year-old from Beijing, who lives in Kyoto, Japan, said: “My iron shots were not very good and the wind was quite changeable so I made some wrong club decisions.
“I studied both my partners’ stats entering this round and found out that they made more birdies than me for the last two days. So I knew that I needed to be patient for the whole round. I was happy that I did. Tomorrow, I have to get into a groove earlier.”
The final round begins on Sunday at 7.45am local time.