V Krishnaswamy @Swinging_Swamy

Amandeep Drall holds a one-shot advantage heading into the final day of the Hero Women’s Indian Open, after the local talent rolled in five birdies to card a round of 67 (-5) to take the outright lead at DLF Golf and Country Club.

A birdie on the last sees the Indian star at the top of the standings with 18 holes left to play in her home event, after picking up four shots in five holes around the turn to put herself in a good position earlier in the day.

The 30-year-old has Germany’s Olivia Cowan and Caroline Hedwall of Sweden for close company on nine-under par for the week, with the duo shooting rounds of 65 (-7) and 68 (-4) respectively to keep themselves in contention heading into the final day.

The home crowd will have plenty to cheer about on Sunday with Aditi Ashok (-6) and Gaurika Bishnoi (-5) making it three Indian players in the top five after three rounds, with Drall sitting in pole position after playing 54 holes.

The Indian was one of four players in a share of the lead at the midway mark, and she, had five pars to open the day to keep her within touching distance at the top. She then birdied three in a row from sixth to eighth, before adding a timely fourth birdie on 10th, where Hedwall dropped her first shot of the day, putting Drall in sole leadership.

With Cowan hot on her heels heading down the back nine, another birdie on the last left the Patiala-born star with a one-shot advantage heading into the final day.

The player making the big move on the day was German Olivia Cowan, who was T9 in her last visit to the same event. Cowan, lying tied-10th after two rounds, rose up the leaderboard with four birdies on the front nine, producing some brilliant golf along the way.

A run of five successive birdies from holes 7-11 saw the 26-year-old jump the the leaderboard on day three, before picking up another shot on 14 to leave herself on -7 for the day, and -9 overall.

“I’ve played well both days of the week really, and so I felt quite comfortable with my game. It is a difficult course, so you never really know what’s going to happen,” Cowan said.

“I mean, a big number can be around the corner at any point, so you just kind of have to stick to what you’ve been doing and be patient out there.”

Hedwall looked like the one to beat in the early stages of the third round, with the Swede picking up four shots on her front nine, only for back-to-back bogey on holes 10 and 11 seeing her slip behind Drall in the pecking order.

The former Solheim Cup star is seeking a second win at the Hero Women’s Indian Open, the first one having come back in 2011, which was also the rookie year for the Swede. Since then, she has also finished runner-up in 2012 and 2018.

Hedwall – playing in the lead group with Drall – led after a bogey free 32 (-4) for the front nine to see her on -9 overall, while Drall was three-under, and also bogey free, sitting on -8.

However, they swapped places after the tenth, as Hedwall dropped a shot, her first one of the day and Drall picked up a birdie for a two-shot swing that put the Indian in sole lead at nine-under, before the six-time LET winner star dropped another on the next hole to leave the Indian sitting at the top of the leaderboard.

Birdies on the 12th and 18th made amends for those mishaps in the latter stages, leaving her one shot back with Sunday’s action to come.

Hedwall said: “The back nine here on this course is actually quite tough. I had a couple of good breaks on the front nine and then I had a couple of bad breaks on the back nine and that’s what made the difference today. 

“On the front nine, I played really well, I hit it fairly close and just made the putts. I didn’t really miss anything on the front line.”

2016 winner Ashok fired a round of 69 (-3) to keep herself in contention with one round still to play in India, with a bogey-free back nine contributing to her moving up the leaderboard.

After starting the day with two bogeys in her first three holes, Ashok turned her fortunes around with birdies on holes four and five, before an eagle on nine negated any damage from another dropped shot on the eighth.

Further birdies on holes 12 and 13 on the way home moved her into standalone fourth on -6, and she will play alongside compatriot Bishnoi on day four after a solid level-par round of 72 leaves the 24-year-old on -5 for the week.

“I have not had the putts going for me, but I did get an eagle, when I drove the green and holed a 50-footer, probably my longest putt this season,” Ashok.

Ana Peláez Trivino and Anais Meyssonnier sit in a tie for sixth after three days of action, with round of 67 and 68 respectively seeing them move into red numbers for the week on -4 total.

2017 winner Camille Chevalier sits in a three way tie for eighth to round off the top ten, with the Frenchwoman round of 70 (-2) leaving her on -3 overall, where she sits alongside Meghan MacLaren (72) and Noora Komulainen (74).

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