Date: July 31, 2016
Author: Mark Hayes

Thai too hot for firing Aussies

If you'd offered Karrie Webb and Sarah Jane Smith eight and six under, respectively, heading into the final round of the Women's British Open, they'd likely have jumped at it.

As it turns out, the Queensland duo has achieved those marks – both good enough for top 11 rankings after round three – but still trails record-breaking leader Ariya Jutanugarn by plenty.

The Thai sensation, already a three-time winner on the LPGA Tour this season, set a new 54-hole low mark at the year’s fourth major when she carded another spectacular six-under-par 66 at Woburn Golf Club’s Marquess Course today.

Remarkably, Jutanugarn has recorded just one bogey in her rounds of 65-69-66 in racing to 16 under par, two clear of first-round leader Mirim Lee, who herself had just one bogey today in another impressive 69.

A host of previous champions are still in the mix, including Webb. But they’ll need things to go wrong at the pointy end to have a realistic chance tomorrow.

Affable American Mo Martin shot her third successive round under 70 to reach 11 under, while Catriona Matthew (-10) and Stacy Lewis (-10) have also reached double digits under par.

Webb had her round at three under until a bogey on the last reduced her to a 70 and a tie for sixth with Lexi Thompson, Shanshan Feng and Korean dynamo Ha Na Jang.

Outstanding Irish amateur Leona Maguire is 10th at -7, then Smith is among a handful of big names at six under after a blemish-free round of 70.

Minjee Lee opened brightly, but couldn’t ram home that momentum and finished at three under and T27 alongside world No.1 Lydia Ko.

The other Aussie to make the cut was Su Oh, but the young Victorian had a round to forget with six bogeys against just two birdies for a 76 and a five over total.

But the day belonged to 20-year-old Jutanugarn.

Her 200 total is one less than the previous championship 54-hole record set by Germany’s Caroline Masson at Carnoustie in 2011.

She began her third round with birdies on the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 8th and cruised to the top of the leaderboard with further birdies on the 10th and 14th.

“I feel very comfortable,” said the Thai player whose older sister, Moriya, also made the cut and moved up into a share of 27th place with a third-round 68.

“I didn’t hit my irons good, but I still made a lot of birdies.

“I think I know how to play under the pressure tomorrow … the only thing I have to focus on is what I can control.”