After three rounds of play at the 2021 AIG Women’s Open, a pair of Scandinavian players were tied atop of the leaderboard at Carnoustie Golf Links: Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist and Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen were 9-under par, one clear of American Lizette Salas.
Nordqvist posted a tournament-low 7-under 65, which was also the lowest of her major career. The Swede signed for a bogey-free scorecard which included seven birdies, highlighted by three on her final five holes to secure a spot atop the leaderboard at 9-under par.
“I feel like I’ve been playing really solid this week and last week (at the Scottish Open), I hit the ball really well,” said Nordqvist.
“So I think it’s been coming together for a while, but just very steady.
“Hit a lot of fairways, a lot of green today. Gave me a lot of good chances and that’s going to be the difference.”
Koerstz Madsen, meanwhile, was 4-under 67 on the day, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 12th hole.
“I’m happy with the round. I played quite steady out there. Hit a lot of greens,” said Koerstz Madsen. “Would have liked somewhere been closer to the pin but also made some good putts.”
Salas, who finished runner-up at the 2019 AIG Women’s Open and the 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, holds solo third at 8 under. Playing in the day’s penultimate group, Salas got off to a sluggish start with bogeys on Nos. 2 and 5, but bounced back and played bogey-free the rest of the way.
“You had to mentally prepare for conditions like this,” said Salas. “I think it really forced me to go back to boring golf instead of trying to be aggressive and try to make a move.
With a potential Solheim Cup berth on the line, Salas hopes to rely on those two recent major runner-up finishes as she seeks to finally capture major glory.
She added, “Battling in that final group with Nelly back in KPMG, I learned a lot. Also in 2019, coming back from a few shots back at the (AIG Women’s) Open, that just shows that I can make a move. I could play.
“I think just looking back on those experiences is going to help me just kind of stay calm and be patient tomorrow. I think this is a whole new ballgame and a whole new challenge, and I think we’re ready.”
One further back was Scottish amateur Louise Duncan who had the home crowd going bonkers when she closed with birdie at the par-4 finishing hole to reach 7 under.
Duncan, who enters the final round tied for fourth, seeks to become the first amateur to win an LPGA Tour event since Lydia Ko in 2013 and just the third amateur to win a major.
She was joined in fourth place by Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen (68), Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom (69) and American star Lexi Thompson (70).
Seven more players were tied for eighth on 6 under, including five major winners: American Nelly Korda (70), Canadian Brooke Henderson, Thai Ariya Jutanugarn (68), Korean Sei Young Kim (72) and England’s Georgia Hall (73).
The others in the 6-under logjam were Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn and American Yealimi Noh, who held the lead on 10 under through 15 holes but finished her final three holes bogey-bogey-double bogey to post 71.
2021 AIG Women’s Open
Top-10 Leaders: Round 3
Pos-Player-To Par-(Rd 3)
1. Anna Nordqvist -9 (-7)
1. Nanna Koerstz Madsen -9 (-4)
3. Lizette Salas -8 (-2)
4. Louise Duncan -7 (-4)
4. Sanna Nuutinen -7 (-4)
4. Madelene Sagstrom -7 (-3)
4. Lexi Thompson -7 (-2)
8. Ariya Jutanugarn -6 (-4)
8. Brooke Henderson -6 (-2)
8. Nelly Korda -6 (-2)
8. Moriya Jutanugarn -6 (-1)
8. Yealimi Noh -6 (-1)
8. Sei Young Kim -6 (E)
8. Georgia Hall -6 (+1)
Pos-Player-To Par-(Rd 3)
18. Atthaya Thitikul -4 (-4)
18. Patty Tavatanakit -4 (-3)
18. Minjee Lee -4 (E)
27. Nasa Hataoka -3 (-1)
27. Yuka Saso -3 (+2)
33. Jeongeun Lee6 -2 (-2)
40. Stacy Lewis -1 (E)
40. Lydia Ko -1 (E)
46. Carlota Ciganda E (E)
61. Inbee Park +6 (+5)
61. Jessica Korda +6 (+5)