Yuka Saso struggled on a rainy Saturday, shooting a two-over par 74 and skidding to a share of 27th going into the final 18 holes of the Women’s British Open at the Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.
Bedeviled by tough playing conditions – not to mention the testing holes – Saso had only one birdie to show against three bogeys for a three-day aggregate of 213 – six shots off Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen who shot 65 and 68, respectively.
The reigning US Women’s Open titlist started ominously after bogeying the second hole. She dropped two more strokes with bogeys on the 10th and 12th holes that typified her struggle for the day.
Saso needs to produce a miracle final round if she is to win her second major title or even make it to the top 10.
With their 207 total, Madsen and Norrqvist had a one-shot lead over 2019 runner-up Lizette Salas (70), while the group on seven under included American Lexi Thompson (70) and Scottish amateur Louise Duncan (68).
The new US star, Yealimi Koh, was out on her own on 10 under but then became the latest casualty of Carnoustie’s challenging closing holes.
Ten under with three to play, the 20-year-old — third in last month’s Evian Championship — dropped shots at the 16th and 17th and then went into the burn and ran up a double-bogey six at the 18th to finish with a 71 for six under.
Nordqvist, a two-time major champion, won the Evian Championship in pouring rain four years ago, so she has shown she can perform in tough weather.
“I played so solid and I’ve had a great attitude this week,” said the 34-year-old.
“I love being back in Scotland and the rain wasn’t quite as bad as predicted. I had a few family and friends out there which was nice.”
Koerstz Madsen is hoping that one more good round could clinch her Solheim Cup debut for Europe’s defence in the USA in a fortnight’s time.
She won on the European Tour in 2016 and also has three victories on the Symetra Tour and had a tie for third in the first major this season, the ANA Inspiration in California.
Nelly Korda, the Olympic gold medallist, had a 70 to stay in contention on six under par and three off the lead.
Duncan had another outstanding day in front of her home crowd. (With a report from AFP)
207 – Nanna Koerstz Madsen (DEN) 70, 69, 68; Anna Nordqvist (SWE) 71, 71, 65
208 – Lizette Salas (USA) 69, 69, 70
209 Sanna Nuutinen (FIN) 70, 71, 68; Madelene Sagstroem (SWE) 67, 73, 69; Alexis Thompson (USA) 69, 70, 70; Louise Duncan 68, 73, 68
210 – Ariya Jutanugarn (THA) 71, 71, 68; Georgia Hall 68, 69, 73; Sei-Young Kim (KOR) 67, 71, 72; Brooke Henderson (CAN) 71, 69, 70; Nelly Korda (USA) 67, 73, 70; Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) 72, 67, 71; Yealimi Noh (USA) 70, 69, 71
211 – Ayaka Furue (JPN) 74, 70, 67; Leona Maguire 72, 67, 72; Su-Hyun Oh (AUS) 71, 69, 71