Charley Hull and Lilia Vu share the lead going into the final day of the AIG Women’s Open after an engrossing third round at Walton Heath.
“Obviously it was so windy today but I dug deep," said Hull. "I struck the ball pretty well. I was pretty confident and felt good out there and I'm pretty proud of myself, so can't wait to just chill tonight. It would be unbelievable to win. It would be absolutely unbelievable, to do what Georgia (Hall) did in 2018. To do that again would be unreal. But one step at a time and just go out there and have fun. It is good to have the home fans, so many crowds, and it's nice to have that home support.”
American Ally Ewing led by five shots overnight but three bogeys in her first six holes in the breezy conditions allowed the rest of the field to close in and leave the Championship wide open.
Cheered on by the home fans, England’s Hull is chasing her first major title after three late birdies in a row from the 15th saw the 27-year-old post a four-under-par 68 for a nine-under total of 207.
It matched the total set by Vu, who recorded a superb 67, as the 25-year-old American looks to add a second major to her Chevron Championship success in April.
“I think today was really for me in terms of confidence," said Vu. "It's been since the Chevron that I actually felt pretty decent about my game and where it's at. So tomorrow I'm just going to do the same thing I did today, focusing on tee shots and giving myself a good opportunity for birdies. If I just do that tomorrow and not think too much about the wind.”
On a day when the lead changed hand on several occasions, American Angel Yin also signed for a 67 after six birdies in her last ten holes to reach eight-under-par. Yin, second at the Chevron Championship, is on the same mark as Korea’s Hyo Joo Kim after a 68.
The final round at the venue south of London is now set to produce an exciting finish with a host of international players in pursuit of the coveted title.
Ewing equalled the biggest lead after 36 holes and those who have previously held a five-shot advantage at the halfway stage, Emilee Klein (1996) and Jiyai Shin (2012), both went on to lift the trophy.
However, the Mississippi native dropped shots at the 1st, 5th and 6th in the toughest conditions of the week and then mixed three birdies with three further dropped shots as she posted a three-over 75 for a seven-under total to fall two strokes adrift.
Sweden’s Linn Grant is a shot further back on six-under, with world number one Nelly Korda still in the hunt inside the top ten at four-under, which was helped by a chip in for eagle at the par-5 11th.
In the two-way battle for the Smyth Salver as leading amateur, England’s Charlotte Heath sits at three-over-par, two strokes ahead of Spain’s Julia Lopez Ramirez, going into the final day.
The AIG Women’s Open takes place until tomorrow (13 August) at Walton Heath, with tickets on sale via www.aigwomensopen.com.