Thailand’s Numa Gulyanamitta shot five birdies and two bogeys at Yalong Bay Golf Club on Saturday to take charge going into the final round of the Sanya Ladies Open in China.
The 23-year-old LPGA rookie’s round of three-under 69 took her to five under par in total and one clear of Cassandra Kirkland of France.
Gulyanamitta recovered from a bogey on the second to birdie the third and eighth before further birdies on the 10th and 13th put her at five under par.
She bogeyed the 565-yard par-five 16th after going for the green and hitting her second into the water, but made a 15 foot birdie putt at the 17th.
“I putted well and a couple that I didn’t expect to go in fell in. I made a couple of really good up and downs and impressed myself. It just happened to be a good day today,” said Gulyanamitta, who is the younger sister of fellow golf professional Russamee.
“The wind was a lot softer than yesterday which made the course a little easier. The wind still affected you but only a club more.”
The Purdue University graduate won the LPGA’s qualifying school at the end of 2011 and has tied for 15th and 21st at the US Women’s Open in 2011 and 2012 respectively. However she said: “Winning this would be the biggest thing so far but there is one more round tomorrow so we’ll see.”
Kirkland had a bogey-free round of 67 containing five birdies to get into contention for her first Ladies European Tour title.
“I hit the ball really well today and made a couple of good putts. I was a little frustrated because I don’t have my six-iron. My caddie lost it last week so I had to be super creative on the golf course because I needed it about five times today. I played last Sunday in Suzhou without it too,” Kirkland said.
Kirkland is lying 90th on the LET order of merit, so a strong finish would push her significantly up the ranking securing her tour card for next season.
“I had a bad period during the summer and it’s coming back slowly. I’ve had a couple of good rounds and yesterday it was really windy so one over was a decent score. I’m quite excited; I feel good and if I can make another good round it will be great,” she said.
England’s Holly Aitchison (69) and Australian Sarah Kemp (70) are tied third, two shots off the lead, while seven further players are a stroke further back in a tie for fifth.
Kemp was tied for the lead after 15 holes but dropped shots at the last two holes, while overnight leader Joanna Klatten was four under with three to play but bogeyed the seventh and eighth.
Klatten said: “I hit a cold top off the seventh tee straight into the water which I’ve never done before but I made birdie with my second ball which is pretty good. I’m going to have to go low tomorrow.”
Last week’s Suzhou Taihu Open winner Carlota Ciganda is also poised to strike sitting just three shots off the lead after a 70. Ciganda had a level par front nine and bogeyed 11 but picked up four shots in five holes before dropping one at the 17th.
She eagled the par-five 13th after hitting her approach shot to within a metre of the flag from 170 metres using a 5-iron and said: “I’m happy because I was one over after 11 but have mixed feelings after being three under after 16. Tomorrow I need a good day.”
It was a fine day for Englishwoman Laura Davies, who struck back from an opening 77 with a 69 to sit two over and comfortably make the cut, which fell at six over par.
Meanwhile Germany’s Caroline Masson, who is trying to make up ground against Ciganda on the LET’s year-ending order of merit, is down in a share of 17th on level par.