Aussie pair Minjee Lee and Stephanie Kyriacou have promised to go down swinging as they seek to rein in runaway leader Ashleigh Buhai at the AIG Women’s Open at Muirfield.
Buhai’s round of seven-under 64 in strong winds on Saturday has given the South African a five-stroke buffer at the top of the leaderboard.
Lee and Kyriacou are nine shots off the lead after both posted rounds of one-under 70 to be in a tie for sixth with Japan’s Miyuu Yamashita.
Lee (12.20am AEST) and Kyriacou (12.30am AEST) will tee off in the fourth and third-last groups respectively with just one thought in mind: Attack.
Buhai (nee Simon) has just one top-five finish in 42 previous starts in major championships and Lee has no doubt the 33-year-old will feel the pressure on Sunday.
“The position I’m in and considering how many shots back I am, I think I can be aggressive and I can just try and make birdie every single hole,” said the two-time major champion.
“Ash, she has probably contended a few times but it’s the British Open and the final group, so I’m sure she’ll have a few nerves.
“I’m going to have to shoot a really low score and hope for her to come back a little bit.
“That’s pretty much what I want to do, just play my game and try to make as many birdies as I can.”
On track to record her best finish in a major championship, Kyriacou also has no intention of playing for second place despite the deficit she and Lee have to make up.
“Will definitely be more aggressive,” Kyriacou said of her final round strategy.
“I’m a few shots back. I mean, it’s not impossible but it’s going to be harder.
“Just like going for pretty much every pin that’s not silly. Just backing myself. What’s the
worst that could happen? I shoot 10-over, big whoop.
“That’s pretty much how it’s going to be.
“The only way to win is to be aggressive. You don’t come here to come second place.”
Kyriacou need only repeat the start to her third round to begin to apply some pressure on Sunday.
The 21-year-old made birdie at he first, fourth and fifth holes to keep pace at the top of the leaderboard, losing ground with back-to-back bogeys at seven and eight.
A dropped shot at 14 saw her fall to even par on her round, returning to red numbers with a birdie at the par-5 17th.
“I was like three-under through five and I made a couple soft bogeys which kind of killed the momentum,” Kyriacou explained.
“I didn’t make too many mistakes, and the back nine I find harder.
“I just didn’t give myself many close chances and had to scramble a bit more and just made a birdie on 17 and one-under. Pretty basic golf.”
Lee also made a positive start with birdies at three and five to make the turn in two-under.
Bogeys at 10 and 14 sent her back to level par for her round, a bogey at 16 wedged between a pair of birdies at 15 and 17 allowing her to post an under-par round for the third straight day.
“It was really windy out there,” Lee added.
“I feel like I probably could have had a little bit lower score but considering where I hit it, I think I’m happy with where I’m at.”
West Australian Hannah Green started bogey-bogey in her round of three-over 74, tied for 19th at two-under par through three rounds.
Whitney Hillier celebrated making the cut at the Women’s Open for the first time with a third round of two-over 73, the highlight an eagle at the par-5 17th.
1 Ashleigh Buhai 70-65-64—199
T6 Steph Kyriacou 70-68-70—208
T6 Minjee Lee 68-70-70—208
T19 Lydia Ko (NZ) 71-70-70—211
T19 Hannah Green 71-66-74—211
T41 Whitney Hillier 72-69-73—214
Round 3 tee times AEST
9pm Whitney Hillier, Xiyu Janet Lin
10.30pm Hannah Green, Marina Alex
11.05pm Lydia Ko, Mel Reid
12.20am Minjee Lee, Miyuu Yamashita
12.30am Steph Kyriacou, Madelene Sagstrom