American Salas takes 54-hole lead at Women’s Australian Open; Leblanc three back

American Salas takes 54-hole lead at Women's Australian Open

ADELAIDE, Australia — American Lizette Salas shot a 2-under 71 Saturday to take a two-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Women’s Australian Open while Canada’s Maude-Aimee Leblanc was just three shots off the pace.  

Salas, who had a 10-under total of 209, was 1 over after the front nine at Royal Adelaide, but rescued her round with back-to-back birdies on the 14th and 15th holes and another on the par-5 17th.

Despite her poor start, she joked about her round later.

“I started to think whether or not I tied my hair up too tight, or whether I should take off my sweater,” Salas said. “I didn’t get a start that I wanted to but today I felt like even par literally felt like under par. I rolled in a few putts when I needed to.”

South Korean-born Australian Su Oh had the round of the day, a 68, and was tied for second with fellow Australian and 36-hole leader Sarah Jane Smith (74) and Pornanong Phatlum of Thailand (73).

“It’s a little disappointing, I feel like I played pretty well,” Smith said. “I made a lot of soft bogeys today, where I feel like today’s the day where if you made some bogeys you’d be OK. Hopefully, we can get on top of that for tomorrow.”

Leblanc, from Sherbrooke, Que., had a 73 and was tied with Denmark’s Nanna Madsen (71). Defending champion Haru Nomura of Japan had a second consecutive 69 and was in a group tied for seventh, four strokes behind.

Hamilton’s Alena Sharp shot a 74 to move into a tie for 10th place, five shots off the lead.

No. 2-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, the LPGA’s Player of the Year and a five-time winner in 2016, shot a 71 and was at 4-under. Michelle Wie shot 76 and was at 2-under, eight strokes behind.

No. 1-ranked Lydia Ko of New Zealand was at even par after a 73 on Saturday, as was Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont.

Ko has a new coach, caddie and equipment.

“It takes time to get used to, but with the clubs actually, it hasn’t really taken a long time,” Ko said “Straight away I had a rough idea how far it was going and the flight itself. It’s something that I can trust, even though it’s only my first tournament with them.”

 

The Associated Press

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