Taiwan’s three-time major winner Yani Tseng extended her lead to three shots over rival Shin Ji-yai yesterday heading into the final round of the Women’s Australian Open.
The defending champion continued her hot form with a five-under 68 for a 54-hole total of 14-under 205 at Melbourne’s Commonwealth course.
“It was a very tough day. I feel I can play much better than this,” Tseng said. “I needed more putts to drop in the hole. Hopefully tomorrow my putting will be better.”
South Korea’s world No. 1 Shin posted a 69 to be outright second, but heads into today’s final 18 holes with plenty to do to become the first Korean to win the biggest prize in Australian women’s golf.
South Korea’s 2009 US Open champion Ji Eun-hee is third at 10 under par, while Australian Katherine Hull has an outside chance to reel in the leaders after posting a 67 to be outright fourth at eight-under, six shots back.
The turning point in the head-to-head battle between Tseng and Shin came on the long sixth, a par five with a ridge running through the middle of the green.
Shin made a bogey after missing the green with a wedge and failing to get up and down, while Tseng tapped in for a birdie following a brilliant approach from slightly shorter range.
World No. 1 Lee Westwood and sixth-ranked Paul Casey missed the cut while No. 2 Martin Kaymer and seventh-ranked Steve Stricker scraped through by the skin of their teeth at the Qatar Masters on Friday.
While some of the heavyweights struggled to cope with the difficult Doha Golf Club course, little-known Austrian Markus Brier opened up a one-stroke lead after a faultless six-under 66 gave him a seven-under tally of 137.
The 42-year-old Brier was one ahead of South African Darren Fichardt (68) while defending champion Robert Karlsson of Sweden (69), Briton Richard Finch (69) and Dane Thomas Bjorn (65) were sharing third place on 139.
Briton Westwood cited early-season rust after rounds of 73 and 75 meant he failed to qualify for the weekend on four-over 148.
Kaymer recovered from an opening 77 to shoot a 70 and wound up right on the cut mark of 147. If the German could finish in the top two today he would dethrone Westwood as world No. 1.
American Stricker also squeezed through with rounds of 76 and 71 but Briton Casey, winner of last week’s Volvo Champions event in Bahrain, went out after following an opening 74 with a second-round 75.
Westwood missed his first cut in 13 months after a 25-foot eagle putt failed to drop at the last hole.
“My opportunity to play all four days is gone now,” the Englishman said. “Of course it would have been nice to play the weekend and get rid of the rust that’s still in my game.”
“I didn’t play very well today and that’s the reason I missed the cut,” he said.
Westwood indicated he would spend the weekend working with his coach at the Emirates Golf Club, venue of this week’s Dubai Desert Classic.
Brier enjoyed a welcome return to form after losing his European Tour card last year and having to return to qualifying school.
“At the end of the season I really had to go back to my roots by playing qualifying school,” the twice tour winner said.
“Today I could see in the morning there was a little less wind and the opportunities were there. I kept the ball in play and holed two or three really long putts,” he said.