Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen closed with a sensational eagle at the 54th hole to post a bogey-free round of 68 (-4) to leapfrog Spain’s Nuria Iturrioz and assume a one-shot lead atop the Andalucía Costa Del Sol Open De Espana leaderboard.
Paired with the home-favourite for each of the first three days, Pedersen struck a towering hybrid from 171 meters to 30ft on the reachable par five 18th hole before calmly rolling home for her 13th eagle of the season.
Pedersen has a habit of doing this sort of thing when it matters, and the today was no different.
Using the same club that she performed the heroic shot to get her into a play-off two weeks ago in Saudi Arabia, the 24-year-old is looking to cap a historic season which has seen her lift four trophies already and seal the inaugural Race to Costa del Sol crown.
Looking to become the first LET player to win three consecutive events since Marie-Laure de Lorenzi achieved the feat in 1989, Pedersen added,
“It never gets boring leading; this is why I practice so hard to be in this position so no complaints from me. I took a chance with the second shot on 18, I knew it was risky but I was confident I could pull it off, I hit it really solid today and played well but I couldn’t quite make the putts today, until the end.”
Trailing by a stroke at eight-under-par for the week and looking to emulate her compatriot Azahara Munoz as the only native to win the tournament, Iturrioz led by as many as five shots after three successive opening birdies but faltered in the middle of her round to shoot a level-par 72.
“The course isn’t easy to play in these conditions, but I made a few bad decisions out there which led to three bogeys and that’s it. I hope I keep playing like this tomorrow, with less mistakes and we will see what happens.”
Smiling throughout the day, the three-time LET winner is taking it all in her stride and is looking to learn more from tomorrow than just competing for her home open title.
“Emily played really good golf, not making any bogeys but she is playing amazing this year. I told my coach that I could learn from her with some shots, so I am looking forward to having a fight with her tomorrow, and the players behind.”
Joining the pair in the final group and occupying solo third spot after a third round of 67 (-5) is Morocco’s Maha Haddioui. Looking to make history of her own as the first Arabic winner on Tour, the 31-year-old, who is competing in her eighth season on Tour, added,
“I got a new putter this week and that is definitely staying in the bag. I am getting some good momentum from playing in a lot of tournaments and I’ve done a lot of work on my swing, mentally and my short game and it is just starting to pay off now. I am in a comfortable position and so happy to be playing. I am so grateful to be out her competing.”
The only amateur to make the cut is local star Ana Pelaez, who impressed with a round of 68 (-4) to move to T7 alongside her Spanish idol Azahara Munoz. A tee-time that the 22-year-old is excited about, the pair will be joined by Finland’s Sanna Nuutinen at 10.00am.
Pelaez added, “The truth is that Azahara Muñoz and Carlota Ciganda are a real role models in my career, and to equal something like this would be wonderful and I will remember it all my life. I can’t wait to learn from and play with Aza tomorrow.”
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