November 07, 2021: A course-record equaling 63 from Lydia Ko has the New Zealander in firm control heading into the final day of the $1million Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF.
The former world #1 carded five birdies on both the front and back nine at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to lead by four with one round to play.
Sitting at -16, the 24-year-old will look to hold off a final day push from Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul, whose scintillating 65 propelled her into lone second.
England’s Alice Hewson sits two further back on -10, with Spaniards Carlota Ciganda and Nuria Iturrioz both on -9.
“I played really solid today,” said Ko, who tied Australian Steph Kyriacou’s record low round at Royal Greens. “I missed a short putt for par on three and then went on a stretch of birdies. I gave myself a lot of good looks for birdie opportunities and I was rolling it well, so it was a good combination of everything, where I wasn’t making many mistakes. It was that kind of a round where I just kept putting myself in position, trying to play the best golf I can.
“I’ve got to keep playing aggressively. This is a course where you’ve seen players can play well so I’m just trying to make my share out there and see what happens.”
Atthaya Thitikul – who looks set to be crowned the LET’s Race to the Costa del Sol champion after her low round on Saturday – said: “I feel pretty good about my round today. My putter was on fire. I’ll keep trying to roll in my putts tomorrow and keep making as many birdies as I can, staying focused.”
On her final day playing partner Lydia Ko, Thitikul added: “She is really solid. Her putter and short game is one of the best – she’s pretty good! I’ll learn from her tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.”
After an opening day 75, a resurgent Georgia Hall went three-under-par yesterday, before going a further three better today, placing her in a busy chasing pack, albeit ten off the top.
Hall said: “Today I could’ve been nine-under if I’m honest. I missed quite a few putts under ten-foot. But my game was a lot better today and I’m very happy with how I played.
“I had three weeks off so maybe just getting back into tournament mode took me a little bit more time than I thought. No matter how much you practice, competitions always feel different, so it’s just been getting my swing back into a good place.”
American Alison Lee – whose compatriot and playing partner Lyndsey Weaver found the tournament’s second hole-in-one en route to a one-under-par 71 – sits one better at -7, herself bouncing back from a Day 1 five-over-par 77 with rounds of 65 and 67.
Lee said: “I feel like I played pretty solid today. My strength today was my putting. Long birdie putts, shaky par putts coming back – it was my saviour today.
“I was very disappointed after the first round. I feel like I’ve been playing really well and that was just one of those days a golfer has in their back pocket once in a while, it just kind of happens. Thankfully I recovered yesterday and hopefully I can put a good number up tomorrow.”
The Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund will be followed by the Aramco Team Series – Jeddah, the last of four new $1million team tournaments added to the Ladies European Tour this season, November 10-12th.
Tickets for both tournaments remain available, free of charge.