Saturday's golf: Olson grabs two-shot lead, closes in on first major
Evian-les-Bains, France — Chasing a first major title for herself, and a first for American women this season, Amy Olson fired a bogey-free 65 to take a two-shot lead after the Evian Championship third round on Saturday.
Olson broke clear to post a 14-under 199 total after twice being in a four-way share of the lead at the sun-soaked Evian Resort Golf Club.
An eagle at the par-5 9th first took her clear, and she added three birdies on the back nine to stretch her lead over Sei Young Kim.
“I really enjoyed (the nerves), that means I care, right?” Olson said. “It was fun to start solid with a birdie on the first hole.”
Kim carded 64, flashing the form that set a U.S. LPGA Tour record 31-under winning total at the Thornberry Creek Classic in July.
“The big goal is to win a major tournament. I wish I could,” said Kim, a seven-time winner on tour.
Mo Martin, a former Women’s British Open winner, was two shots back on 10 under.
A further shot back was a group of three players including Georgia Hall (68), who was a homegrown British Open winner last month.
Five Americans are in the top 10, seeking a first major at the fifth and final try this season and a winner’s check of $577,500. The year’s major winners have come from Sweden, Thailand, South Korea, and England.
Olson aims to learn from her previous majors experience playing in the last group on Sunday. In April, a 72 turned second place into tied for ninth at the ANA Inspiration.
Still, she said she learned then from watching playing partner Pernilla Lindberg win a three-way playoff after letting slip a three-shot lead.
Olson is also flourishing with her brother, Nathan Anderson, on the bag as caddie.
“Most of my golf memories do involve him,” she said. “Having a sibling be part of it is very special.”
The American challenge at Evian includes Ryann O’Toole, who made the biggest move on Saturday to be 8 under, tied for seventh. Her 63 was the lowest round this week.
Tight pin positions offset otherwise perfect playing conditions on a still, 24-degree (75 F) day on the hillside course overlooking Lake Geneva.
While her South Carolina hometown Seneca is at risk of flooding from Hurricane Florence, Austin Ernst (69) joined the four-player group on 8 under with an eagle on the par-5 15th.
“Praying for my friends & family back home in SC/NC in hurricane Florence’s path. Y’all be safe!!” Ernst has tweeted from south-eastern France.
Puerto Rico’s first-ever LPGA Tour player, Maria Torres, tied for the lead after each of the first two rounds and briefly shared the lead on Saturday. Torres dropped shots at the two closing par-4s and a 72 left her tied for 11th, seven shots back.
The 16-year-old Rachel Heck carded a 72 to be 2 over in her second major. The high-schooler previously tied for 33rd at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open.
At The Hague, Netherlands, Chris Wood birdied the 18th hole to card his second 65 of the KLM Open and take a one-shot lead into the closing round.
The English golfer got off to a sluggish start with a bogey on the par-4 2nd at The Dutch in Spijk, and reached the turn 1 under for the day before reeling off five birdies on the back nine to reach 13 under for the tournament.
Hideto Tanihara of Japan matched the lowest round of the European Tour event with an 8-under 63 to join overnight leader Ashun Wu and Jonathan Thomson in a three-way tie for second at 12 under.
After opening rounds of 64 and 66, Wu could manage only a level-par 71 as he slipped off the top of the leaderboard.