Home favourite Charley Hull seized a share of the lead with American Lilia Vu heading into the final round of the Women’s Open at Walton Heath on Saturday with a four-under-par 68.
The 27-year-old finished on nine under par for the tournament and level with Vu, who is aiming for a second Major of the season following her Chevron Championship triumph after carding a 67.
Ally Ewing, who held a five-shot lead overnight, slumped to a 75 but is still in touch at two behind the leaders on seven under. Angel Yin (67) and Kim Hyo-joo (68) are tied for third place on eight under.
England’s Hull is still chasing a first Major title after several near misses in her career so far.
Hull is staying at home this week – she lives less than half an hour from the course – and she has played Walton Heath many times with male friends from the furthest back tees.
With the benefit of local knowledge, and huge support from the gallery, she packed in six birdies, including three in a row from the 15th.
“I’m super excited about tomorrow,” said Hull. “I’m not really feeling any pressure because I’m staying at home and I have played the course so often with my mates.
“I played very solid today and the three birdies in a row from the 15th was great. I then got up and down for par at 18 which was vital.”
Hull shot 66 in the final round and finished joint second at the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach last month.
Vu had seven birdies in a five-under round.
“This is the first time since winning Chevron that I have felt comfortable with my game. It has given me a lot of confidence,” she said. “It’s great to go into tomorrow with a chance to win.”
Yin has come close in a couple of Majors.
The 24-year-old American lost to Vu in a playoff at the Chevron Championship and tied for second at the 2019 US Women’s Open.
She burst onto the scene as a teenager, earning a place on the US Solheim Cup team in 2017 and winning a tournament in Dubai in the same year. She has yet to claim another victory.
“Tomorrow I just have to stay patient,” she said. “But I think the fans are going to see a lot of aggressive golf in the final round. It’s going to be fun.”
Ewing missed a short putt at the 1st and also three-putted the 3rd for bogey. She did make a couple of birdies around the turn but could not hold onto her lead.
Jiyai Shin, winner in 2008 and 2012, hasn’t played in the tournament since 2016, but raised hopes of a third victory with a 69 for five under.
Shin (35) gave up life on the LPGA Tour to play mostly in Japan and her native South Korea. But she made a Major comeback this year and tied for second with Hull in the US Women’s Open last month.
“I decided to come back to the Majors to show my Grandma that I could sill play here and in the US,” she explained. “Unfortunately, she recently passed away but I still have to show her and she’s definitely still seeing me.”
World No 1 Nelly Korda made a move with a 69 to reach four under and it could have been even better but for three-putt bogeys at the 13th, 14th and 18th holes.
But she did have the bonus of a chip-in eagle at the long 11th.
“At the beginning of the day I would have taken three under,” reflected the American. “I hit the ball great but my putting let me down. Still, it’s always good to move up on moving day.”
© Agence France-Presse