Yani Tseng moved a significant step closer to claiming her second major title of the 2010 season when she carded a third consecutive round of four under par 68 to maintain her four shot lead after the third round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at The Royal Birkdale Golf Club.
The 21 year-old Taiwanese golfer goes into the final round four shots ahead of Australia’s Katherine Hull and five in front Korea’s In-Kyung Kim and she will surely draw a lot of confidence from the fact that she has dropped just one shot to par during 54-holes played in demanding weather conditions.
America’s Brittany Lincicome closed with two birdies to register a one under par 71 that saw her claim fourth place on five under par 211 but her compatriot Cristie Kerr missed a series of short putts on her way to carding a level par 72 and dropping from second place to a tie for fifth place alongside Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, America’s Christie Kim, Japan’s Momoko Ueda and Korea’s He Kyung Kim on four under par 212.
Tseng began her third round by posting 12 consecutive pars in heavy wind and squally showers. She made her first birdie of the day on the 430-yard par-14 13th and then repeated that feat on the 499-yard par-5 15th before concluding her round by holing from 20-feet behind the hole for an eagle on the 472-yard par-5 closing hole.
“Tomorrow the title will be won and lost on the three par fives in the last four holes,” said the Taiwanese golfer who won the second of her three Major titles when she defeated Pettersen at this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship at the beginning of April.
“Today I set out trying to be patient and that’s what I managed to do. I’m proud that I have dropped just one shot in such difficult conditions and I’d like to think I can maintain that sort of form tomorrow afternoon”.
Tseng admitted that she was singing songs to herself for much of the round in an effort to maintain her composure but the rest of the field are unlikely to be in such a melodious mood as they contemplate the remorseless nature of the Taiwanese golfer’s bid for a third Major in the space of three seasons.
Tseng’s nearest rival is the somewhat unlikely figure of Hull whose best finish to date in the Ricoh Women’s British Open was a lowly tie for 40th at last year’s Championship at nearby Royal Lytham & St Annes.
The former Canadian Women’s Open champion began this year’s Championship with rounds of 68 but then lost ground with a 74 before bouncing back with a splendid 68 that included five birdies in the last five holes.
“I don’t think I have done that since college (at Pepperdine University) and I certainly haven’t done it in a Major before,” she said.
I don’t know why I’m doing better here than I have done in previous British Opens but it might have something to do with the fact that over the last couple of years I have learned to shape the ball better than I used to.
“You gotta’ be able to do that on a links course,” she added. “My ball striking is getting better every year and I love links golf now. It’s fun to me. I wish we could play more of it in the States.”
In-Kyung Kim may not appear to be the archetypal links player either but she has displayed consummate skill during her first three rounds of 70, 72 and 68.
The latter began with two birdies in the opening three holes and concluded with a 15-foot putt for an eagle on a last hole which relinquished no less than five eagles and 41 birdies during the course of the penultimate round.
Kim has also decided that patience is the key to success around such a formidable course in the sort of testing conditions the competitors have experienced this week.
“I’m 22 now. I’m trying to calm down but my personality means I still get a bit hyper,” she said. “My caddie Terry McNamara (who used to work for Annika Sorenstam) is very experienced and helps a lot. He has more wins than almost anybody else and he’s helping me to calm down and play my game.
“He keeps telling me not to force it and he also gives me a lot of really good clubs so that helps as well.”
Morgan Pressel produced the round of the day when she posted a spectacular seven under par 65 well before many of the leaders started out.
Pressel’s round started in inauspicious fashion when she dropped shots at both the 1st and the 2nd but she proceeded to defy the testing conditions by firing no less than eight birdies and an eagle over the next 16 holes to finish in a tie for 10th place alongside Korea’s Na Yeon Choi on three under par 213.
Pressel’s run started when she got back to level par for the day with birdies on the 373-yard par-4 3rd and the 175-yard par-3 4th. She carded another two at the par-3 7th and a three at the par-4 9th to go out in 33 and then romped home in a five under par 32 which culminated in an eagle three on the 516-yard par-5 17th and a birdie four on the 472-yard par-5 18th.
“I have never played well in the British Open,” she admitted. “The little booklet they have shows my best finish is 42nd which is pretty embarrassing so this is definitely promising.”
“I holed a lot of putts today. I hit 14 greens. I had only 25 putts and I have put myself right back in the hunt.”
The bravest round of the day may well have come from recent US Women’s Open champion, Paula Creamer, whose left thumb was clearly causing her considerable distress as she put together two opening rounds of two over par 74.
The American missed much the of the first part of the season after surgery on the injured digit and at one point it looked likely she would have to retire before resolving to give it a go.
“Unfortunately I’m in pain. I have been for a while,” Creamer said after posting a two under par 70 that saw her jump up to a share of 25th place.”But we’re athletes. None of us wants to pull out unless we have to so I decided to give it a go.
“The fans here are amazing,” she added. “I love coming here and I just wanted to come out and play for them. I’m glad I was able to do it.”
The shot of the day came from Welsh Solheim Cup player, Becky Brewerton. She had a hole-in-one with a 5-iron on the 147-yard 12th hole and it helped her to post a one under par 71 and finish as leading British golfer in a share of 17th place alongside Lee-Ann Pace, Michelle Wie, Azahara Munoz, Irene Choi, M.J. Hur and Juli Inkster on one over par 217.