Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Muñoz thrilled the Spanish galleries as they fired matching third rounds of 67 to share the lead heading into the final round of the Andalucia Costa del Sol Open de España Femenino at Club de Golf Guadalmina.
The former Solheim Cup partners started the day one stroke behind rising English star Georgia Hall, who was two strokes clear when she was unsettled by a double-bogey on the par-3 fifth hole, but they ended the day at 16-under-par and three strokes clear of Hall (71).
Although Hall was one clear after 10 holes, the Spanish duo rallied with five-under-par back nine totals, including three birdies to finish from Ciganda and an eagle on the last from Muñoz, the defending champion.
Ciganda said afterwards: “I started with a bogey on the first hole but I told myself to stay patient today. I know I can make birdies here, so just relax and try to hit fairways and greens. I had a birdie on nine and then I saw the tee was up on 12, so I made two good birdies on 11 and 12 and had three birdies to finish, so I’m very happy and excited for tomorrow.''
''It’s great because lots of people were watching and I really enjoy playing here in Spain with Aza and lots of friends, family and kids. I think it’s really good for golf.”
Both Ciganda and Muñoz benefited from the support of the large and vociferous galleries but Muñoz also has the added advantage of playing at her home club.
She said after her round: “It was really fun going back and forth making birdies with Carlota. Finishing with an eagle at the end definitely puts a smile on my face and dinner is going to taste much tastier.”
Hall, who carded a 71, looked disappointed after letting several birdie putts slip past the hole, but she will remain in contention for her first win on Tour.
South African Lee-Anne Pace, the 2013 tournament champion, is a stroke further behind in fourth position, followed by Swedes Camilla Lennarth and Frida Kinhult and Natalia Escuriola Martinez in joint fifth.
Lennarth, who has just returned from injury, had a 66, which was the best round of the day, while Kinhult, who will turn 18 is two days’ time, is the only amateur in the field.
The 17-year-old from Skaftö, which is a small island on the west coast of Sweden just north of Gothenburg, has played in three LET Access Series tournaments this year and was a member of the European PING Junior Solheim Cup team last month. The younger sister of professional golfer Markus Kinhult, a member of the men’s European Tour, she received an invitation to play in the tournament after winning the Spanish Amateur Ladies International Championship in March.
Meghan MacLaren, who won the Azores Ladies Open on the LET Access Series this year, sits in eighth position, while Olivia Cowan, Diana Luna and Ursula Wikstrom are tied for ninth.
The final round gets under way on Sunday at 8.10am.
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