LPGA Tour rookie Amanda Doherty shot a 1-under-par 72 on Saturday and will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the ISPS Handa World Invitational at Ballymena, Northern Ireland.
Doherty, who is bidding for a first LPGA Tour title, is at 12-under 206 through three rounds. She is one stroke ahead of Chinese Taipei’s Peiyun Chien (70) and England’s Georgia Hall (70) at Galgorm Castle Golf Club.
LPGA Tour rookie Allisen Corpuz (70), Norway’s Emily Kristine Pedersen (73) and Sweden’s Maja Stark (69) are two shots behind Doherty.
The event is tri-sanctioned by the LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and DP World Tour. A field of 132 men are also playing on the same courses, with the men and women competing for identical purses of $1.5 million.
Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson leads the men’s field with an 11-under 199 after carding a 2-under 68 on Saturday. His round included four birdies and two bogeys. John Catlin (66) sits three strokes back in second place.
As for Doherty, she overcame a sluggish start in which she went bogey-birdie-double bogey on Nos. 3-5 to add four more birdies and one bogey.
“I got off to a little bit of a slow start. I tend to do that though, so it doesn’t freak me out too much,” Doherty said. “Yeah, happy I turned things around.”
Doherty, 24, also admitted that she’s nervous heading into the final round.
“I’m excited. I’m a little bit nervous though. I would be lying if I wasn’t,” said Doherty, who could become the fifth different American to win this season. “To me the nerves just mean that I care and that I’m excited, and it’s just kind of good energy going into (Sunday).”
Doherty’s top finish is a tie for 14th at the LA Open in April.
Chien recorded four birdies on the front nine before running into trouble during a three-hole stretch. She rebounded from a bogey on No. 12 and a double bogey on No. 14 to add two more birdies to her total.
“The course is very firm this afternoon. I play with Georgia so I learn a lot from her. She’s pretty consistent. Not a lot of emotions,” Chien said. “I would say after that double I just forget it and keep breathing, talk with my caddie. It just really helped me to just forget it and relax my shoulder.
“So I think I’m doing very well.”
Hall had an eagle on the par-5 ninth hole to highlight her day. She also had four birdies to offset three bogeys.
“I had a pretty good yardage into the hole, 220 or something, and hit 4-iron,” Hall said of her eagle. “… I just used the bank (and) the ball rolled back to the hole. It was pretty much a tap-in. I mean, that’s kind of the easiest eagle I could have had.”
–Field Level Media