When Paul Keating was Australian treasurer, one of his famous quotes related to “a beautiful set of numbers.”
He could very well be referring to his namesake, Victorian golfer Stacey Keating, after taking a look at the leader board following the third round of the Victorian Women’s Open at Thirteenth Beach Golf Links, Barwon Heads.
Keating fired a second consecutive round of six under par 68 to take a stranglehold on the tournament.
The 26-year-old from Victoria’s Western District sits at 15 under par and is four shots clear of her nearest rival at the top of the leader board heading into the final round.
Keating won twice on the Ladies European Tour last year and is eager to win a feature tournament in Australia.
Despite her substantial advantage, Keating said she wouldn’t be approaching tomorrow’s round any different and will still try and play aggressively.
“I like to be contending and I’m doing that and I think there’ll be other extra pressures tomorrow but I’ll have to learn to deal with that,” Keating said after her round.
“I enjoy it. I love when I get nervous because it means that something is on the line so I’m really looking forward to it.
“I don’t want to change anything and if it doesn’t go my way then good on to whom it does.
“But if it does then that’s great.”
Victorian amateur Grace Lennon and West Australian Kristie Smith will join Keating in the final group tomorrow.
Lennon showed no signs of nerves playing in a marquee group, moving to 11 under par after a round of 71.
Kristie Smith is a shot back at 10 under while the 36-hole leader Sarah Jane Smith is among a group of players at nine under par, which also includes England’s Laura Davies and Canberra’s Nikki Campbell.
Sarah Jane Smith posted a one over par 75 and sits in a tie for fourth.
Keating drew level with Sarah Jane Smith after birding the opening hole and the pair shared the lead for most of the front nine until Keating drew clear with a birdie on the par three seventh.
She increased her lead to two shots after Sarah Jane Smith dropped a shot on the par four eighth and then turned three shots clear after birding the ninth, her fifth of the front nine.
Another birdie on the 10th gave Keating a commanding four shot lead before she stumbled with a bogey on the par five 12th.
A double bogey on the same hole saw Sarah Jane Smith slip back into the chasing pack.
Keating then maintained her advantage over the back nine, capping off her day with a birdie on the last hole in front of one of the biggest galleries on course.
“I was very pleased with today,” she said.
“I got off to a great start on the front nine and made a couple of birdies and a bogey on the back nine, but overall I was pretty pleased.”
While excited by her current position, Lennon knows tomorrow will be a tough day playing alongside the tournament leader.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” she said.
“It’s going to be a good learning experience. Even playing the last few days with some really good golfers I’ve learnt a lot.”
Kristie Smith can draw on her experiences at last week’s Australian Women’s Open in Canberra where she shot a couple of low rounds.
“I think I’m going to have to go low where Stacey is at the moment,” she said.
“I left quite a few shots out there today, so not exactly overall that happy. But I’ve given myself a chance going into tomorrow.”
Davies played herself into contention at the half-way mark of her round but she failed to record a single birdie on the back nine.
But Davies said she was still satisfied by her round of three under par around the Beach course.
“I love the course,” Davies said.
“To be honest, when I came here this morning I was thinking `this could be trouble’ because I hadn’t seen nine (holes) of it.
“But the lack of wind today made it easy to place your ball where you wanted to.”
For all the up-to-date news regarding the 2013 Vic Open, check Golf Victoria’s website, www.golfvic.org.au and follow @VicOpenGolf on Twitter.
By: Bradley Green (Vic Open Freelancer)