American Alison Lee holds a huge lead going into the final round of the Aramco Team Series — Sotogrande in Spain following a brilliant performance in the individual event on Friday.
The Californian, who entered the second round tied at the summit, fired a second successive 7-under par 65 at La Reserva Club in incredibly blustery conditions to climb to 14-under. In doing so, Lee takes a seven-shot advantage into Saturday’s finale. The Aramco Team Series, in its inaugural year, comprises four, 54-hole tournaments.
Germany’s Karolin Lampert sits second, with Stephanie Kyriacou, Tiia Koivisto and Ashleigh Buhai all one back on 6-under. Charley Hull, meanwhile, heads a four-strong group two shots further back after a disappointing 75. The Englishwoman is joined there by 2018 Women’s British Open champion Georgia Hall, with American star Paula Creamer at 2-under.
Lee, who began the day with a bogey to then rally back to reel off eight birdies, said: “I would give myself an A — I’m obviously really happy. You have to stay focused when it's windy like this and that almost made me concentrate a little bit more and just try and execute the shot, as opposed to worry about where it was going.
“I hit quite a lot of irons pretty close so I didn’t have to work too hard to make a ton of birdies. It felt almost a little bit easy out there because I was playing well. That’s what you want on a day like today when everyone else is struggling out there. I feel like I really took advantage of a day like this and feel really good about that.”
Lee, a former world amateur No 1, has never captured a professional event before despite joining the paid ranks in December 2014. Now aged 26, the Los Angeles-born golfer has struggled for form the past few years, but has shown signs this summer of getting her game back on track. The Aramco Team Series — Sotogrande represents her fifth tournament on the bounce.
Regarding her lead, Lee said: “It’s a huge advantage. Hopefully I don’t get too much in my own head tomorrow and just try to do what I did the last two days and not really worry about what the other girls are doing and what my score is. Just try and take advantage of the holes that I can and not think too much about it. Just play my own game.
“[Winning] would mean a lot. I’ve come close quite a few times on the LPGA Tour and I’ve never won an event as a professional golfer. So, yeah, it would mean a lot.”
In the team event that runs alongside the individual, Team Strom lead by a shot from the side captained by Buhai. Team Strom, comprising Linnea Strom, Jenny Haglund, Agathe Sauzon and amateur Alessandro Anzelmo, picked up 13 shots on Friday to climb to 27-under, while Team Lampert is 24-under and Team Hull 23-under. The collective event carries a $800,000 prize fund, with the individual another $200,000.
Speaking after her round, Strom said: “As a team, we compensated for each other very well. We all made some birdies and whenever someone made a mistake, the other teammates were doing something good.
“We haven’t spoken about [tomorrow], but we’re all pretty confident in doing what we’ve been doing the first two days. Just enjoy it. Try and make birdies.”