New Zealander Lydia Ko produced a scorching round of 63 to claim a four-shot lead on day three of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund.
The World number seven put on a show at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club to equal the course record and move to 16-under-par for the tournament.
Ko dropped a shot on the third hole but that lit a fire for the two-time Major winner, who then made three consecutive birdies on holes four through six.
The 24-year-old continued that trend with three birdies in a row around the turn, before rolling in three more on 13, 14 and 15 with her final birdie coming on the 17th to seal a sensational round.
“I played really solid today, I missed a short putt for par on three, and then I got really angry and went on a stretch of birdies,” said Ko.
“I gave myself a lot of good looks for birdie opportunities and was rolling it well, so it was a great combination of everything, and I didn’t make a lot of mistakes, it was a sort of round where I kept putting myself into position and play the best golf I can.
“I hit one nasty drive, but I was able to come off there with a par. That’s what you’ve got to do – sometimes you’re not going to hit good shots, so you’ve got to grind your way and hopefully make par.”
If Ko is able to keep the momentum going she is heading for her second victory in 2021 after her victory on the LPGA Tour in April.
“I’ve just got to keep playing aggressively, this is a course where players are playing well, so I’m just trying to make my share out there and see what happens.”
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Four shots behind Ko is 2021 Race to Costa del Sol leader Atthaya Thitikul, who carded her best round of the week so far with a 65 (-7).
The Thai teenager started her day well with birdies on the first and third along with an eagle on the fourth before rolling in another birdie on the ninth.
Thitikul’s next birdie came on 13 and despite dropping a shot on the 14th, she bounced back with consecutive birdies on 15 and 16 to be 12-under-par for the tournament.
“I felt pretty good about my round today, my putter was on fire. My first shot wasn’t the best, but it was pretty good all day, I’ll take it,” said the four-time LET winner.
“Lydia Ko played pretty solid, she hits a pretty good shot and her putting and short game is one of the best, we’ll learn from her for tomorrow. I’m just going to try rolling my putts and making birdies to stay focused for tomorrow.”
Ko will tee off at 9.55pm NZDT on Sunday.
- Thanks Ladies European Tour