American Morgan Pressel holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the RICOH Women’s British Open. After strong winds prevented the majority of the third round from being played on Saturday, Pressel and many others headed out early Sunday morning to complete the third round.
Pressel shot a 1-under 71 to take sole possession of the third-round lead at the Old Course at St. Andrews. The 25-year-old won her first major title at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship, becoming the youngest major winner in LPGA history at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days. Now she’s 18 holes away from capturing major win No. 2, although it will be a test of stamina during the final round as many of the leaders will be playing their second round of the day.
“So far, so good,” Pressel said of how she was feeling. “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 leaderboard and I’m sure more of the same will happen this afternoon. I just want to hang tough and hit good shots.”
Pressel entered the week sitting in 12th on the points list for the U.S. Solheim Cup Team and one spot behind Jennifer Johnson in the Rolex Rankings. A win at the Women’s British Open would earn Pressel 120 points and would secure her spot via the points list for the U.S. Solheim Cup Team, which will be announced after the finish of play tonight at St. Andrews.
Fellow American Stacy Lewis fired a 3-under 69 in the third round. Her 8-under-par total through 54 holes was good for the clubhouse lead when the No. 2 player in the Rolex Rankings finished her round and she’ll enter the final 18 holes just one shot back of Pressel.
“I really hit the ball well this morning and stayed patient on the greens,” Lewis said. “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.”
Scotland native Catriona Matthew gave the home crowd something to cheer about by putting herself right into contention by finishing birdie-eagle to shoot a 4-under 68 in the third round. A huge roar rang out on the 18th when Matthew holed out from 67 yards to move to 6-under-par through 54 holes and will enter the final round just three shots off the leader, Pressel.
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.
Joining Choi at 7-under-par are Suzann Pettersen of Norway, Miki Saiki of Japan and fellow South Korean Hee Young Park.
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 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 10 shots off the lead when she finished her round.
Players will not be repaired for the fourth round, which began at 8 a.m. while the third round was still being completed. The last group is expected to tee off around 1:40 p.m.
A total of 18 holes remain this afternoon before a champion is crowned at this year’s RICOH Women’s British Open but the lengthy day on the links is nothing new for the majority of the LPGA players.
“This is I think the third time we have done 36 holes in the last five Majors,” Lewis said. “So I think we are all kind of used to it and you’ve just got to grind it out.”