Olivia Mehaffey is still in with a chance of retaining her Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open title, but the defending champion had to settle for a share of the lead heading into the final day in Troon.
After an outstanding five under opening round of 67 put her comfortably two shots clear of the field, the 18-year-old’s second day score of 74 left her three under par. Her nearest rival, Linda Lundqvist, who was three under going into Saturday, simply put in a solid 72-par round to become joint leader in what is her first Helen Holm Championship.
The day started with sunshine and blue skies but as it clouded over later in the morning, the breeze whipped up, although it did not seem to affect Lundqvist, pictured above.
The 19-year-old from Sweden said: “I am very pleased as it is my second time in Scotland and I’m not used to this wind. I did not expect to be leading going into the final round, so I am very happy.”
Mehaffey, however, found the conditions tough out on the Portland course. “The wind made it really hard,” she admitted.
“I got off to a bad start with two bogeys and I was a wee bit shaken up coming away with a bogey on one of the easier holes, but then I made some really good pars out there and a couple of birdies. So I felt in control even though I had a couple of bad shots and still managed to get a par out of it, and that’s what it was about today.
“To put yourself into contention after two rounds is all you have to do, and so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. If it blows, it will just make it more exciting.”
Her fellow countrywoman Jessica Ross from Queens Sport Golf Club lies two shots behind in third and is the only other player to remain under par. Bethan Popel from Long Ashton was the only player who shot a sub-par round on Saturday. Her score of 71 put her tied for sixth place.
She said: “On Friday I was three under through nine and shot two over so had a poor back nine. Today I was one over through nine, so nice and steady and then came in in two under. So I was really pleased with that as I thought the last five holes into the breeze was tough, and I was pleased how I played them.”
Shannon McWilliam from Aboyne remains the leading Scot; her round of 75 gave her a tie for 10th place which is where the 16-year-old wanted to be. “I was just playing par golf because of the conditions and as I was top 10,” she said.
“Downwind I was planning on getting birdies which I did, and into the wind I was just playing par golf. I’ll just stick to my game plan tomorrow on the Old Course.”
There were some other bright moments in the windy conditions, including one from national women’s squad member, Eilidh Briggs. Her round was marred by carding an eight on the eleventh after hitting into the rough and having to take a drop, but she impressed her fellow competitors on the final hole.
“The eighteenth is really tough on a good day and I only just reached it yesterday when there was no wind so today in the wind it was really hard,” she explained. “I hit an okay drive, an okay three wood. and had about 84 yards to the pin but with the wind, it was about a hundred. I hit a wedge and I holed it so it is always nice to finish with a flourish.”
The field is now cut to 66 players and ties, which includes 18 Scots, for the final day’s play on the Old Course.