A flurry of birdies on her back nine lifted American Cheyenne Woods into a one-shot lead going into the final round at the Australian Ladies Masters on the Gold Coast.
Woods’ two-under par 71 at Royal Pines on Saturday gives her the narrowest of advantages over South Africa’s Stacy Lee Bregman (72) as both chase the first significant win of their professional careers.
Since turning pro in 2012, Woods has one tournament win on the minor Suncoast Ladies Series in the United States but an Australian Ladies Masters victory would easily be the biggest achievement of her career.
The niece of superstar Tiger Woods admitted she had battled nerves early in her round but was pleased after making four birdies in her final five holes.
“I’m proud with how I was able to fight through today,” she said.
“Tomorrow’s just going to be another day to get through.
“It would be a huge accomplishment (to win). Playing well this week, I’m already happy with how it’s been going but to have that win would just be the cherry on top. Especially to start out my year.”
Like Woods, Bregman endured an up-and-down day, with three bogies and four birdies, but a long birdie putt on the par-5 18th lifted her into second spot on 11-under and will give her a boost going into the final round.
Trailing the leaders, 17-year-old Minjee Lee is the best-ranked Australian after a four-under 69 lifted her to 10-under and within striking distance of the front two.
Lee sunk back-to-back birdies to finish her round and the West Australian amateur was relishing the chance to claim a surprise Ladies Masters win.
“This is what every golfer wants really,” Lee said.
“I’ll just play my own game and, yeah, see where it takes me.”
Victoria’s Alison Whitaker had threatened to shoot herself into contention as she picked up seven shots through her first 15 holes but a double-bogey on the par-4 17th and then a bogey on the 18th dropped her back to a four-under 69.
Whitaker’s late stumble sent her to a tie for sixth at six-under, six shots off the leader.
Just in front of her lie Sweden’s Camilla Lennarth (72) and English veteran Trish Johnson (73) in a tie for fourth on nine-under, three shots behind Woods.