Boeljon poised to retain title
Christel Boeljon opened up a two stroke lead after the third round of the Turkish Airlines Ladies Open, leaving herself ideally placed to retain the title she won 12 months ago at the same golf course.
On another beautiful day at National Golf Club in Belek, Antalya, the 24-year-old from the Netherlands, who began the day tied for the lead with Ursula Wikstrom, carded a four under 69 for a seven under par total of 212 and a healthy advantage over her nearest challengers Minea Blomqvist-Kakko and Ursula Wikstrom of Finland.
A birdie at the first was followed by a stunning eagle at the par-five fourth, where she struck a three-wood to 10 feet and made the putt. A bogey at the sixth was countered by another birdie at the ninth, resulting in an outward half of three under 33.
A run of three straight birdies from the 11th preceded a double bogey at the 14th, but a great save on 17 after she twice hit the trees secured an inward half of one under 36.
“Today I played very solid. It was a shame about the 14th hole but I think overall four under on this golf course is a good score,” said Boeljon.
“On 17, I hit a bad shot off the tee. It was in the trees off the right and then didn’t hit a very good shot out of the trees, so I was still in the trees and then I hit a very good gap wedge which ended a couple of inches from the hole. That was a good shot and saved my par so that was an important hole for me.”
Buoyed by memories of last year’s victory, Boeljon will be tough to catch, but she added: “I don’t think with any score you could be comfortable going into the last round. There’s a lot of golf left and it’s a tough course.”
Blomqvist-Kakko, who made four birdies and one bogey in a 70, is one of the closest challengers at five under but is hoping to swing more freely as she goes in pursuit of her third Ladies European Tour victory.
She said: “I told my caddie, coach, after 18, that we have to figure something out because it feels a little tight swinging and my swing gets a little bit high so it felt like that today. Hopefully tomorrow it will loosen up a little bit. I think I have a very good chance tomorrow.”
Blomqvist-Kakko claimed her most recent LET trophy at the Finnair Masters in her native Finland in 2008, when she and fellow Finn Wikstrom battled for the title.
Now the pair are locked at five under, could the roles be reversed on Sunday, resulting in Wikstrom’s first victory in eight years as a professional?
She certainly hopes so and said: “Things feel good now and I’ve been able to perform okay so I’m pretty confident I’ll have a chance. That’s fun. That’s why we play, I suppose. You want to be up there with a chance of winning the tournament.”
Spanish rookie Carlota Ciganda will also be in the hunt starting the day only three shots off the lead on four under par.
The 21-year-old from Pamplona posted a course record seven under par 66 in the third round to end the day in fourth place.
She mixed nine birdies with two bogeys and commented: “It was one of those days when everything went right. I hit 16 greens and hit close to the pins and making good putts and the back nine was better. I was playing great and I’m happy with the round.
This is Ciganda’s first visit to Turkey and she continued: “The course is in great shape; the hotel is beautiful, the food all the time at the hotel and golf course, the people and everyone who organised it, you can’t ask for more and I’m very happy to be here.”
Denmark’s Line Vedel, Sweden’s Carin Koch and Italian Diana Luna share fifth place on two under par.
The final round begins at 8am on Sunday and the leading trio will tee off at 11.50am.
Scores at the end of round 3:
212 - Christel Boeljon (NLD) 70 73 69
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