World No.3 Stacy Lewis from the USA fired a third-round two-under-par 70 on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club on Friday to take a two stroke lead into the final round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters.
Starting the day one in front, Lewis made three birdies and one bogey in her round to take a two-shot lead over Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum who carded a 69 with Italy’s Diana Luna, Vikki Laing of Scotland and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda moving into a tie for third on six-under 210.
Snapping on the heels of the leaders were the Swedish duo of Louise Larsson and Pernilla Lindberg were one shot further adrift after carding 68 and 75 respectively, raising the prospects of a close finish on Saturday.
Defending champion Shanshan Feng, who opened with a 76, followed her second-round 67 with a 71, quietly moving up the leaderboard and is now at two-under, two behind England’s Laura Davies, who made a 71.
“It's always hard to follow up a day like I had yesterday, especially on the greens. It was the kind of day that could have been worse and it could have been better. But, you know, overall, I'm right where I need to be going into tomorrow,” said Lewis, the two-time major winner, who is playing her first event in Dubai.
“I just didn't hit it quite as close; didn't have as many good opportunities at birdie. But still hit a ton of greens and if I can just get a couple more putts to fall early tomorrow, then I think I'll be in a good place.”
Phatlum felt relaxed as she fired a 69 and said that she was aiming to play with Lewis in the last group. Although Laing and Luna both had matching 69s, Ciganda admitted to struggling on the greens.
“I don't think I played that bad. I just missed a few putts. I hit 35 putts. It was tough, a few 3‑putts out there. And then 1‑over on the par 5s, and I was on each of them in two on the greens. There is one more day tomorrow, I will try my best,” Ciganda said.
Laing, who is yet to win on the LET, chipped in for eagle on the third hole which set her up for another solid round. She said: “I'm happy with the way it went today. I had a few chances out there for birdie, hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens. Just tried to stay patient and made some putts and made a nice eagle, too, which was nice, chipped in. So that always helps.
“I'd have bit your hand off if you had offered me this at the beginning of the week. I'm delighted to be here and playing well and looking forward to tomorrow.”
Luna, who hasn’t played in a tournament for two months, showed why she is always a class act and said: “I'm very confident. I'm playing very well. I made a few mistakes but always well recovered. So I think I'm going to have a good fun tomorrow.”
South Africa’s Connie Chen produced the shot of the day when she aced the 160-yard par-3, 15th, using a six iron, a perfect tee shot which won her gleaming Mercedes Benz E-400 Convertible worth US$70,000, almost on a par with the tournament’s second place prize money of 50,750 euro.
Final round play starts at 7:35 on Saturday and the leading trio of Luna, Phatlum and Lewis tee off at 11:20.