Leona chasing first pro win — four back after third sub-par round in a row

Leona Maguire. Picture: Ladies European Tour

World amateur No 1 Leona Maguire is tied for fourth just four shot off the lead with a round to go in ISPS HANDA  Ladies European Masters Buckinghamshire Golf Club.

The 20-year-old Slieve Russell and Duke University followed opening rounds of 69 and 70 with another three 69 on Saturday to get to eight under par.

She birdied the fifth and 10th, dropped a shot at the 13th but then finished strongly with birdies at the 14th and 17th

Leona Maguire

Tied for fourth Australia’s Rebecca Artis and Taipei’s Ssu-Chia Cheng, Leona said: “Three rounds under par is a good start so far and I’m in a good position. It was a lot windier today so I’m very happy with my score.

“It’s coming in gusts and there were a lot of cross winds out there today so it was sometimes hard to figure out exactly where the wind was coming from. I think I navigated it pretty well.

“I didn’t finish as well as I would have liked yesterday so I really focused coming down the stretch. It was nice to get a birdie on 17 and finish strong like that.”

If Maguire wants to play for Ireland in the Olympic Games next year she will have to turn professional but right now she's taking it one step at a time.

She said: “It’s always a great opportunity to play against the pros to test your game. Obviously I’d love to be out here one day playing against them.

“I’m going to take it as it comes. I’ve one year done in college in the States so I’ve three more left but we’ll see how it goes. I’ll take it as it comes.”

Leona will tee it up in the penultimate group with Cheng and Artis at 1.53pm. Tee times

 Caroline Masson. Picture: L:adies European Tour

Caroline Masson. Picture: L:adies European Tour

Masson conjured up five birdies and one bogey on the first nine holes in the third round at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club before making another birdie on the 15th. 

The 26-year-old from Gladbeck finished on 12 under par and in the hunt for her second Ladies European Tour title after the 2012 South African Women’s Open as many of her closest competitors struggled in the gusty conditions on the back nine.

English pair Alex Peters and Charley Hull, in first and second position overnight, both carded 77s to slip into a tie for ninth and 18th respectively.

However Australian Rebecca Artis expertly plotted her way to a 66 and shares fourth place with the Xiamen Open champion Ssu-Chia Cheng of Chinese Taipei and Ireland’s world number one amateur Leona Maguire.

Masson, a member of Europe’s winning Solheim Cup team in 2013, is hoping to be playing in the tournament on her home soil in September and needs to put in a solid performance to impress captain Carin Koch.

“Of course I want to make the team and it’s a great chance for me to present myself. Obviously on a course that I really like and I’ve had two really good finishes here in the last two years,” said Masson, who finished third in 2013 and tied for third in 2014.  “I’ve been playing well and I haven’t been scoring well but I’ve managed to turn it around in the last few days and I’m super happy about that.”

Meanwhile the Thai pair had the benefit of practising hard in Oxfordshire with their coach John Cook over the last week. They are both searching for their maiden victories on the Ladies European Tour after several chances.

Plucksataporn said: “I hit a lot of fairways today and my game plan was try to hit fairways, greens and then putt. I could make a lot of putts and up and downs so it was fantastic today.”

Srisawang added: “I feel really good this week. I’m looking forward to tomorrow to playing with my friend.”

Collated scores after round 3:

204 - Caroline Masson (GER)  70 67 67

206 - Nontaya Srisawang (THA)  67 70 69, Titiya Plucksataporn (THA)  69 70 67

208 - Ssu-Chia Cheng (TPE)  68 70 70, Leona Maguire (IRL)  69 70 69, Rebecca Artis (AUS)  70 72 66

209 - Nicole Broch Larsen (DEN)  69 69 71, Beth Allen (USA)  71 70 68

210 - Alex Peters (ENG)  70 63 77, Becky Morgan (WAL)  69 71 70, Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA)  72 69 69, Louise Friberg (SWE)  71 69 70

211 - Ashleigh Simon (RSA)  67 72 72, Diana Luna (ITA)  68 73 70, Noora Tamminen (FIN)  73 71 67, Sophie Giquel-bettan (FRA)  66 70 75, Holly Clyburn (ENG)  70 71 70

212 - Melissa Reid (ENG)  71 70 71, Charley Hull (ENG)  68 67 77

213 - Emily Kristine Pedersen (DNK)  68 69 76, Sarah Kemp (AUS)  72 70 71, Laura Davies (ENG)  71 70 72, Nanna Koerstz Madsen (DNK)  71 69 73, Marta Sanz Barrio (ESP)  68 72 73, Carly Booth (SCO)  71 70 72, Pamela Pretswell (SCO)  69 70 74

214 - Trish Johnson (ENG)  68 71 75

215 - Felicity Johnson (ENG)  69 75 71, Isabelle Boineau (FRA)  71 71 73, Amy Boulden (WAL)  72 74 69, Marianne Skarpnord (NOR)  69 73 73, Georgia Hall (ENG)  74 70 71, Gwladys Nocera (FRA)  69 72 74

216 - Ann-Kathrin Lindner (GER)  70 75 71, Stacy Lee Bregman (RSA)  70 71 75, Johanna Bjork (SWE)  73 72 71, Minea Blomqvist (FIN)  70 69 77, Heather Macrae (SCO)  70 76 70

217 - Charlotte Ellis (ENG)  69 75 73, Csilla Lajtai-rozsa (HUN)  72 71 74, Danielle Montgomery (ENG)  72 73 72, Florentyna Parker (ENG)  70 75 72, Liz Young (ENG)  75 70 72, Hannah Burke (ENG)  74 70 73, Rebecca Hudson (ENG)  70 74 73, Isabella Ramsay (SWE)  69 74 74

218 - Sarah Attwood (ENG)  70 76 72, Caroline Afonso (FRA)  72 74 72, Sophia Popov (GER)  73 73 72, Maria Palacios Siegenthaler (ESP)  71 72 75

219 - India Clyburn (ENG)  72 74 73, Christine Wolf (AUT)  76 69 74, Klara Spilkova (CZE)  70 76 73, Margherita Rigon (ITA)  74 72 73

220 - Sophie Walker (ENG)  70 75 75, Lina Boqvist (SWE)  72 71 77

221 - Leigh Whittaker (GER)  71 75 75, Alexandra Vilatte (FRA)  72 72 77, Holly Aitchison (ENG)  75 71 75, Laura Murray (SCO)  77 69 75

222 - Laurette Maritz (RSA)  75 71 76, Stefania Croce (ITA)  74 72 76, Georgina Simpson (ENG)  75 70 77, Louise Stahle (SWE)  73 72 77, Caroline Martens (NOR)  72 71 79, Maria Balikoeva (RUS)  73 73 76

223 - Josephine Janson (SWE)  67 78 78, Marion Ricordeau (FRA)  72 72 79

224 - Maha Haddioui (MAR)  73 72 79

228 - Rachel Goodall (ENG)  73 73 82