Ariya Jutanugarn takes control
Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn moved to the top of the leader board after the third round of Lalla Aicha Tour School in Marrakech, Morocco, on Saturday.
The 17-year-old amateur equalled the Amelkis course record with flawless, personal best round of eight under par 64 for a 54-hole total of 14 under par.
She ended the day a stroke clear of English amateur Emily Taylor, who had a 68 on the Al Maaden course.
Bonita Bredenhann of Namibia also equalled the Amelkis Course record with her personal low round 64 and to lie on 11 under alongside the Spanish second round leader Virginia Espejo (71).
The 141 woman field is spilt over the Al Maaden and Amelkis Resorts over the first four days, playing two rounds on each of the courses. After 72 holes, a cut at 60 plus ties precedes the fifth and final round on the Al Maaden Golf Resort to decide the top 30 full cards plus ties on offer for the 2013 Ladies European Tour.
On a day of low scoring in the warm and sunny conditions there were also two hole-in-ones – with one on each of the courses.
Mallory Fraiche of the United States made hole in one at the 15th on the Al Maaden course in a 66 to share fifth place with Australians Sarah King and Nikki Campbell on 10 under par.
Sweden’s Viva Schlasberg aced the 17th at Amelkis using a pitching wedge to gift herself the perfect 26th birthday present, although she was lying just outside the projected cut mark on level par.
Jutanugarn, whose older sister Moriya topped the qualifiers on the LPGA Tour a fortnight ago looked totally relaxed as she went about her business.
“Today my irons were very good and I hit very close to the pin. I made a lot of putts but I still missed a two-footer on the par five, 15th. I was two on and putted short and then missed it,” she said.
“I am very happy because my putter yesterday was so bad. I missed four feet like four times in a row and I felt so bad. Yesterday I worked hard with my putter and today it got a lot better.
“I feel relaxed because yesterday I did not play very well but I shot two under. I felt like everyone here was playing so good I had to catch up. This makes me feel a lot better.”
Meanwhile Breddenhahn, 20, is poised to become the first professional golfer from Namibia if she is successful at qualifying.
She has worked exceptionally hard to achieve her dream of playing on the Ladies European Tour, having moved to South Africa alone at the age of 15 five years ago to play on championship quality courses and receive expert coaching.
She said: “This is my second time at Q School. I went at the beginning of this year in January for the experience to see how good I must be. I worked throughout the year through all of that, fighting. My dream is to play on the European Tour. Winning the SA Amateur, which I did this year, was one of my big dreams to do before I turned pro.”
The highlight of her round was an eagle on the 18th and she said: “I hit a huge drive, 9-iron in, just sank the putt. I was putting very well this last nine. I was dropping everything, just sinking putts. That helped me a lot. The eagle putt was two metres.”
Espejo, the second round leader, said that although she started badly with a bogey and a double in her first four holes, she would have taken a one under par round at the start of the day.
The projected cut mark to 60 plus ties moved up to one under par on Saturday, while those on four under par or better were within the top 30 plus ties.