JEDDAH: England’s Georgia Hall is well-placed after sailing into a five-shot lead ahead of Sunday’s final round at the $1million Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by the Public Investment Fund.
A near perfect 4 under-par 68 has put the 25-year-old firmly in control at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club on the Jeddah coast, as she seeks to claim what would be only her second Ladies European Tour win.
Hall famously won the 2018 Women’s Open at Royal Lytham, a triumph that remains her sole Major title.
That, however, looks set to change on Sunday, as the world #25 heads-out for her closing round on a course where she holds the women’s record.
Hall said: “That was probably the best long game performance I’ve had so far. I was pretty steady out there, not a lot went wrong. I could have holed a few more putts but it was a decent day.”
This is a tournament where Hall has twice come close, most notably losing out to Emily Kristine Pedersen in a play-off in 2020.
Asked how she will navigate Sunday’s final round, she said: “Just do the same thing, really. Eighteen holes is a lot. Just go out there and stay focused and hit one shot at a time, I think. Yeah, just enjoy it and see what happens.
“Obviously, I’ve played well here before, but every tournament I go out to win regardless of my past on it. So, yeah, just go out there, and until the last putt drops, keep focusing.”
Reigning AIG Women’s Open champion Anna Nordqvist is her closest challenger, five shots behind.
A birdie four from off the green on the 18th put the Swede on 5 under-par, one ahead of compatriot Johanna Gustavsson. Gustavsson had earlier set the day’s pace with a Saturday-low 67.
Nordqvist said: “I hit the ball really, really well on the front nine. I hit good putts, but they didn’t drop, so it was a little frustrating to turn at one-under.
“I’ve found this week really challenging. I don’t think there’s one easy shot out there. With the wind, it’s hard to get a feel for it, but I feel like it was a battle on the back nine.
“I had a great up and down on 14. Par shot on 15. Then birdied 16. I got a little unlucky break there on 18 being up against the wind there. I really didn’t have a good shot, but it was a pure bonus that I made the putt off the green. I was just trying to give myself a good chance for par.
“Overall, I’m proud of myself. It’s just been so windy all week. It’s hard not to let it get to you. When you’re starting balls 25 yards either side or popping up your clubs to get it down, it’s just tough.”
On her round, Gustavsson said: “I was a lot more solid today. I struggled a bit with my driving this week but speaking with my coach on the phone yesterday I worked some things out, and it did help. So [today] was good driving, good off the tee, and then hitting a lot of greens and holing some putts.
“Because it’s so early in the season, I’m trying to get back into the game. Back in Sweden, I’ve been indoors for a lot of weeks now and I’m just getting out on grass again and trying to get into it, because I have a lot of weeks coming up.”
Former Czech Republic international footballer Kristyna Napoleaova had a challenging round, competing in only her second event as an LET professional.
“I found it really great, and I would do it all over again if I could,” said an undaunted Napoleaova, who finished 2 over for the day, dropping back to 4 under-par total, but still in joint third place.
“I’m actually looking forward to tomorrow, and we’ll see how it’s going to go.”