Ariya Jutanugarn produced some record-breaking form to move to the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open over the Marquess’ course at Woburn.
The 20-year-old Thai golfer carded a third round of six under par 66 to overhaul overnight leader Mirim Lee and go into the final round with a two shot lead over the South Korean player on 16 under par 200.Jatanugarn’s 200 total is one less than the previous Championship 54-hole record set by Germany’s Caroline Masson at Carnoustie back in 2011.
The Thai golfer has won three times on this year’s LPGA Tour and is now ideally placed to go on and claim her first Major title. She began her third round with birdies on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th and went on to cruise to the top of the leaderboard with further birdies on the 10th and 14th.
“I feel very comfortable,” said the Thai player whose older sister, Moriya, also made the cut and moved up into a share of 27th place with a third round 68. “I didn’t hit my irons good but I still made a lot of birdies. “I think I know how to play under the pressure tomorrow,” she added. “I know the only thing I have to focus on is what I can control.”
Lee began the Championship with a ten under par 62 and is still Jutanugarn’s nearest challenger after adding rounds of 71 and 69 for a 54-hole aggregate of 202.
Right behind the South Korean are former champions Mo Martin, Catriona Matthew and Stacy Lewis who are all nicely placed to make a last round charge. Martin posted a 69 to slip one shot ahead of veteran Scot Matthew on 11-under par 205 while 2013 champion Lewis completes an ominous chasing pack after posting her second consecutive 70 to lie one shot further back on 207.
China’s Shanshan Feng, South Korea’s Ha Na Jang and America’s Lexi Thompson all share sixth place on 208. Ireland’s Leona Maguire holds a comprehensive seven shot lead over Curtis Cup colleague Bronte Law in the race for the Smyth Salver awarded to the leading amateur who play all four rounds of the Championship.
English international Law started the day one shot ahead of Maguire after two opening rounds of 70 but fell away with a 76 and saw herself overtaken as Maguire carded a fine 68 to finish the day in tenth place on seven under par 209.
Law finished the day back in 52nd place on level par 216. “It was a great day out there,” said Maguire. “I enjoyed every minute of it. “I played some really nice golf and gave myself a lot of chances. “I’ve had a blast this week. It’s a big bonus being here and being able to play against the best players in the world. It gives me a taste for what I want to do.
“Amateur golf is as strong now as it’s ever been,” she added. “Bronte is obviously a good friend of mine at college in the States but it’s great to see all the amateurs doing so well this week.”
Former winners of the Smyth Salver include Michelle Wie (2005), Mel Reid (2007), Anna Nordqvist (2008) and Lydia Ko (2012 and 2013).