England star Melissa Reid said defeating an Oates Vic Open field the quality of an Australian Open would be a satisfying career achievement.
Reid heads into the final day at Barwon Heads’ 13th Beach Golf Links at 15-under par, two shots ahead of Victorian Su Oh, who finished runner-up in 2015, and American teenager Angel Yin.
The 29-year-old ran hot early in her round to leap to the top of the leaderboard. She was five-under after six holes but only found two more birdies for the rest of her round.
One of those came after she drove the 280m par-four 15th.
A bogey on 16 halted her charge but she made a great par save on the par-three 17th before a birdie attempt on the 18th slid past the cup.
Reid admitted it was a frustrating day with the putter, but is staying focused on her pre-tournament goal of reaching 20-under.
“To be honest, I kind of needed that pressure on my putting because I felt that I’ve worked extremely hard on my putting but not been rewarded for it yet,” Reid said.
“I spoke to Kevin (Craggs), my coach, last night and he gave me one little tip about balance and it made a lot of difference today. I felt like I was striking my putts better, my pace was a lot better
“Obviously I didn’t want to be in that situation, but I was quite happy in a way because I wanted to see what I was like under pressure.
“I hit a good putt on 18 but just lacked a bit of pace.”
Reid is a five-time winner on the Ladies European Tour and has enjoyed some strong results in Australia in the past.
With the Oates Vic Open a co-sanctioned event with the Ladies European Tour, Reid would love to win and secure some much-needed Solheim Cup points and put her name well and truly in the selection mix with European captain Annika Sorenstam.
“A win here would be very, very special. I’ve always wanted to win in Australia, no matter what the tournament is,” Reid declared.
“I feel like I’ve got a lot of support out here and feel like I’ve played really well out here but never really crossed the line.
“If I play well tomorrow, hole a few more putts, hopefully we can be lifting the trophy. But we’ve got a long way to go yet.
“My goal was to get to 20-under. If you can get to 20-under then you give yourself a pretty good chance. We said at start of the week 20-under was our goal and that’s all I’m focusing on.”
Both Oh and Yin birdied the par-five last hole after wayward shots to leap out of the chasing pack at 12-under par and into the final group alongside Reid.
Yin shot a five-under 67 while Oh held her nerve to shoot a three-under 70 while playing partner and half-way leader Nicole Broch Larsen tumbled down the leaderboard with a six-over par 79.
Oh was frustrated with her round and knows if she can tidy up her short game, which let her down at times today, she can challenge Reid for the title.
“Today it felt like nothing was going my way,” Oh said.
“Yes I made a few good putts but it was a weird day. On the (par-five) 14th I hit it over the back and I didn’t even have a stance.
“But I’m happy I grinded today out. When I reached the 15th (hole) I saw the leaderboard and thought ‘try to get two more birdies’ which is what I did.
“Now I just need to have a good day tomorrow. I’m only two shots out so who knows.”
Yin is excited to be in contention to win her first professional tournament and admitted she almost didn’t return to Barwon Heads this year after missing the cut in her debut appearance in 2016.
“It’s like redemption this week because, last year it was blowing so hard and I’d never really played in the wind and I missed the cut and I hated this course,” Yin said.
“I told myself that I’m never going to come back but someone convinced me to come back and it’s good that I have because I’m playing pretty well.
“I’m excited (to be in the final group).”
The 19-year-old said she’s developed her game around playing in windy conditions last year in Europe.
“I got a feel of the wind everywhere I went, so I played in the wind quite a bit and trained myself to play in the wind.”
Scotland’s Kylie Walker produced the round of the day, her eight-under par 65 equalled Oh’s Beach course record while 2015 champion Marianne Skarpnord celebrated her 31st birthday with a five-under par 68 to move into a tie for 21st and survive the field’s secondary cut.
Four-under par was the cut with 2014 champion Minjee Lee (three-under) among those who won’t be around tomorrow.
England’s Charlotte Thomas provided the highlight of the day when she aced the 132m par-three 12th – the first hole-in-one of the week.