A huge cheer from the gallery around the 18th green could be heard across The Old Course at St Andrews at 10am this morning as Scotland’s own Catriona Matthew holed a lob wedge shot for eagle from 67 yards.
A birdie, eagle, finish sealed a third-round of 68 for a 54-hole total of 210, six-under-par, which put the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open champion right back in contention for her second major championship after her win four years ago at Royal Lytham and St. Annes.
Matthew, who had bogeyed the first two holes in extremely windy conditions on Saturday before play was suspended for the day, picked up a birdie at the sixth early this morning to make the turn in 37 but then birdied the 10th, 12th, 17th and eagled 18 to come back in 31.
With two hours before her fourth-round tee time at midday, Matthew returned home to freshen up but her husband/caddie Graeme revealed this was the first time that she had finished with an eagle: “Kind of a nice place to do it! To birdie 17 feels almost like an eagle and to pull out an eagle on this course is obviously something special. She finished birdie, birdie on the first day so good holes for her so far.”
She finished the third round just three shots behind the third round leader, Morgan Pressel of the United States, who ended the morning on a nine-under-par total of 207 after a third round of 71.
Pressel, the 2007 Kraft Nabisco champion, had three birdies against two bogeys after an early start on Saturday morning.
“So far, so good,” Pressel said. “Going to go get a little bite to eat and relax a little bit before my next round. It's really tough out there. Especially that back nine plays really difficult. I think we saw a lot of back and forth today on the leader board and I'm sure more of the same will happen this afternoon. I just want to hang tough and hit good shots.”
She explained the challenge of playing 36 holes in one day. “Well, it's tough. We did it at Wegman's, the final group there, and that was certainly challenging. It will be just like that today. The wind, you just have to think so much over every shot. So by the end of the day, I don't know if I'll be thinking, just kind of relax and just let everything go. I've just got 18 more holes of some pretty intense focus and should be okay.”
|Third round leader Morgan Pressel
Fellow American Stacy Lewis was in second place on eight-under-par after a 69, with Miki Saiki, Na Yeon Choi, Hee Young Park and Suzann Pettersen all just two shots off the lead on seven-under-par.
After her third round, Lewis, the 2011 Kraft Nabisco champion, said: “I was up at 4.30, so it was still dark out when I woke up, which is hard to do over here. You knew it was going to be a long day, and I just paced myself out there and did a good job out there and feel pretty good about the round.
“I think I shot even par on the back nine, which is great score, and you know, 17 is basically playing as a par 5 today, so I don't feel like those two bogeys are going to hurt me too much at the end of the day.”
Pettersen, who won the 2007 LPGA Championship, said of her third-round 72: “It was good, very solid, hitting a lot of greens. Hit one bad iron shot on 11 that cost me a 3‑putt, but overall, very solid. Felt like it was just a little bit harder to get that much closer to certain pins today. But overall, very happy and I'm in a good position.
“I feel like I'm in a great position, I can go out, I can be aggressive, and it was just nice testing, playing 15, 16, 17, I really stepped up to the plate and hit good golf shots. Sometimes the putts are going to drop and sometimes they are not. It's nice to feel that a little bit, that's because what it's going to be.
“Really the key is going to be getting out to a good start this afternoon but I have a couple of hours to rest up and I'll be ready to go.
“I really hit the ball well this morning and stayed patient on the greens. I had a bunch of opportunities and if you can just get a couple putts to fall here and there, you're right where you need to be.
“This is I think the third time we have done 36 holes in the last five Majors, so I think we are all kind of used to it and you've just got to grind it out.
“The golf course, depending on the wind, could get hard; it's stamina, staying patient, being in shape, so hopefully I can use that to my advantage.”
Third-round play officially resumed at 6:15 a.m. Sunday morning and there was plenty of movement near the top of the leader board.
Second-round leader Na Yeon Choi got off to a rough start in her day with a double bogey on the second hole. She had a rollercoaster round, making three straight birdies at one point on front nine before bogeying three out of four holes on the back side to finish with a 2-over 74 to sit two shots off the lead at 7-under-par.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park wasn’t able to make a big move in her run at history early Sunday morning. Park entered the third round sitting eight shots off the lead in her chase to become the first golfer – male or female – to win four professional majors in a single season. She was 1-under through four holes in the third round when play was suspended on Saturday afternoon. But Park ended up shooting a 2-over 74 that moved her to even par for the tournament and she was nine shots off the lead after the third round.