KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: A battle royale looms for the top prize of $150,000 from the $1 million Saudi Ladies International prize fund between co-leaders Lydia Hall and Emily Kristine Pedersen, with a trio of challengers hoping to mount an upset of their own.
The scenario emerged after the third round on Saturday in the golf tournament at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City.
Two back at the start of the day, Hall of Wales rode a hot back nine of 32 to 3-under 69, with dropped shots on No. 12 (bogey) and 13 (double bogey), following a birdie on the 11th hole — the only blot in an otherwise solid performance.
Danish star and overnight leader Pedersen needed a clutch birdie on 18 to tie Hall on 10 under heading into the final day of the tournament, which is presented by the Public Investment Fund.
Pedersen, who lost the lead to the charging Hall at the turn, and was one down in the last three holes after a bogey on 15 that negated a birdie on the par-5 13th hole, returned a 71.
Three players were within three shots of the leaders with, first-round leader Georgia Hall of England at 9 under after a 69 Wednesday, while France’s Celine Herbin and Swedish major winner Anna Nordqvist tied on -7 in a tight leaderboard pregnant with possibilities in Sunday’s fourth and final round.
Herbin gained ground by shooting the day’s best round of 5-under 67. Nordqvist tallied 69.
“I got off to a fast start today. The wind picked up in the back nine and made things more difficult,” Hall told Arab News.
“I had two bad swings out there but overall I’m very happy with how today was and I’m looking forward to play tomorrow with the same group,” said Hall.
“Tee to green the last three days had been very strong and I holed a lot of putts. Overall the whole of my game has been very solid,” she added.
“Tee shot is so important. If you can advance it decently in the fairway, you have an advantage around this golf course.
“Overall very happy with my performance this week,” she said.
Hall starts in the last group for Sunday’s fourth round with English namesake Hall and Pedersen. She said: “It’s going to be fun and I’m looking forward to it. We’ll have to see what happens.”
Pedersen, who sank a crucial 10-footer for birdie on 18, said: “I’m happy to still be leading heading to the final round. I had to do pretty good damage control. I need to play better tomorrow.”
Germany’s Esther Henseleit was alone at 6 under with a big group at -4 that included another German, Laura Fuenfstueck, Caroline Hedwall of Sweden and India’s Aditi Ashok.