It was a 20-year-old phenom who made the big move in round three at the MCKAYSON New Zealand Women’s Open. Unfortunately for local fans it was Canada’s Brooke Henderson rather than Lydia Ko that fired a superb 67.
Defending champion Lydia Ko will need to pull off a miraculous comeback if she is to win her fourth national championship. Spain’s Belen Mozo (71) leads at 15-under with Henderson one stroke adrift after her flawless round of five-under par.
Ko shot two-under 70 to trail Mozo by seven strokes in the first LPGA event played on New Zealand soil at Windross Farm Golf Course.
American Brittany Lincicome fired a six-under 66 to move into a share of third with China’s Jing Yan at 11-under. Wales’ Amy Boulden, Thailand’s Thidapa Suwannapura and Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe are five back at 10-under in a tie for fifth.
It would seem unlikely anyone else can make up five strokes. But Lydia Ko isn’t just anyone in her front of a parochial home crowd.
“I started with a bang, finished with a bang,” said Ko, referring to today’s round that featured birdies at the first, ninth and 18th holes.
“I don’t know what it’s going to take to maybe be the one holding the trophy. But it seems like the girls are still playing great golf even though it is getting tougher out there.
“I’ve just got to concentrate on my game. I heard the weather might not be so nice tomorrow. But who knows, Auckland weather, it can change. I’ve just got to stay confident, stay patient.”
The MetService is forecasting heavy rain and strong winds on Sunday. Organisers have decided on a two-tee start for the 78 players to contest the final round, starting from 7.40am. The final group will tee off about 10am.
“The advice from the MetService is that we will face some challenging conditions and we believe it is prudent to get play completed as early as possible,” said tournament director Michael Goldstein.
“If the forecasted weather results in delays, then we will have time available to get the tournament completed on Sunday.
“There has been incredible support from fans all week and we’re expecting great crowds tomorrow. But they will need to come prepared for the conditions and the earlier start.”