Great day for Dane at Pattaya LPGA event

Nanna Koerstz Madsen tees off on the 17th hole during the third round of the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament at Siam Country Club in Pattaya on Saturday. (Photo: 2022 Getty Images for LPGA)

PATTAYA: Nanna Koerstz Madsen of Denmark will be chasing the first victory of her LPGA career when she tees off in the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament on Sunday.

The 27-year-old fifth-year professional shot a bogey-free 66, six under par, to take the lead on Saturday at 21 under after three rounds. She’s one shot ahead of Celine Boutier, who was born to Thai parents in France, and Lin Xiyu of China.

Lightning interrupted play for more than an hour on Saturday afternoon at the Siam Country Club in Pattaya, but Madsen put her head down to finish top of the board for the first time.

“It’s exciting,” said the Dane, who began her round with birdies on the first and second holes. “It would be amazing winning a first LPGA event. That’s what I play for, so that would be just awesome.”

Lin surged back into leaderboard contention with four consecutive birdies on the back nine.

“The front nine was pretty average, and then back nine I was just kept telling myself to be patient, it’s going to come, and so it was a good little roll,” she said.

Two shots off the lead is Gaby Lopez of Mexico, who went 8 under on the day to bring her three-round score to 18 under. She’s tied with Brooke Henderson of Canada and second-round co-leader Nasa Hataoka of Japan.

Among the Thai competitors, teenage star Atthaya Thitikul had the best performance of the day, with six birdies and an eagle to go with three bogeys. The LPGA rookie’s round of 66 gave her a three-round score of 13 under par, eight behind the leader. Patty Tavatanakit shot a 68 to move to 11 under and first-year pro Jaravee Boonchant was another stroke back.

Pajaree Anannarukarn and veteran Jasmine Suwannapura head into the final round at 8 under par, one stroke ahead of teenage qualifier Chanettee Wannasaen of Chiang Mai.

Defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn and her sister Moriya are at 6 under par.

The 15th edition of the Honda LPGA Thailand offers prize money of US$1.6 million (53 million baht), of which the winner will receive $240,000.

In other golf news, defending champion Lydia Ko has tested positive for Covid-19 and withdrawn from next week’s Saudi Ladies International, tournament organisers said on Saturday.

The New Zealander is in isolation after testing positive following the HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore last week.

World number three Ko, who became the first woman to claim multiple Olympic golf medals with her bronze at the Tokyo Games last year, has been replaced by American golfer Angel Yin.

The third edition of the Saudi Ladies International, part of the Ladies European Tour, will be hosted at the Royal Greens Golf & Country Club from March 17 to 20 and has a purse of $1 million.