Celine Boutier. Women’s Scottish Open

World No.4 and 2023 Evian Champion Celine Boutier, who started the day five shots adrift of the lead, showed no sign of fatigue from winning her first major last weekend to move three shots clear in the Women’s Scottish Open with a stunning third round of 66 at Dundonald Links.

Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit, a fellow major winner, also shot 66 to see her climb up the leaderboard on moving day into tied second place alongside Maja Stark, whose par 72 had promised so much more with four birdies over the first 10 holes. The leader at the halfway stage, Japanese star Hinako Shibuno, had a disappointing Saturday that saw her move in the wrong direction dropping to T6 following a 77.

Boutier rolled in birdies on holes two, three, five and seven before dropping a shot on the ninth. She continued to impress with birdies on 12 and 14 followed by a bogey on 15 but she finished in style with back-to-back birdies on 17 and 18 for her round of six-under.

The major champion sits at the top of the leaderboard on 13-under in search of back-to-back victories.

“I definitely feel like I’m hitting a lot of good shots, which is nice,” said Boutier, who was runner-up at this tournament in 2022. “Sometimes you envision shots, and it doesn’t always happen. I feel like today a lot happened the way I saw it. It was very positive and I’m very happy with my round.

“I’m just trying to hit as many good shots as possible. I’m trying to stay focused and I feel like this course is pretty challenging with the weather conditions. I’m just trying to hit the best shots possible under the circumstances.

“When you’re playing well, it’s easier to be positive about it. I made a bogey on nine, which also fired me up a little bit. It was nice to get some more energy going. I’m just going to try to hopefully play the same and stick to my game plan and see what happens.

“I’ve definitely been playing well and the fact that I got a good result last week also is giving me a little bit of confidence. I’m just trying to build off of that, and hopefully have a good, solid round tomorrow.”

Tavatanakit and Stark are back on 10-under.

Tavatanakit had quite the scorecard with her only bogey coming at the first followed by eagles on the third and 14th holes as well as birdies on five, nine, and 12 for her own round of 66 .

“It was just a good day, everything was solid. I made a lot of putts,” said the Thai star. “I just took it shot by shot and it just happened to turn out really well this week.

“I’m really having fun learning so far, and it is links so anything could happen. If you play well, you also need a bit of luck and it’s been helping me so far.

“I just want to have fun tomorrow and I’m not really thinking about anything and just go out there and play golf like I did today. It was really light, and it was really fun.”

It was a frustrating day for Stark who had a bogey on the fourth that was sandwiched between birdies on three and five.

The six-time LET winner rolled in back-to-back birdies on nine and 10 but then had bogeys on holes 11, 15 and 18 for an even-par round of 72.

“I just felt like I had a lot of good opportunities, but I just didn’t trust my irons today,” she said. “I did stupid mistakes on my putting where I changed my mind when I was standing over the putt, and then I aimed somewhere else, and then I missed. It felt like such immature golf.

“I want revenge, and it is nice to have someone to chase that is not too far away. So, it’s good to be in the final group. Tomorrow, I think it’s just a “screw it” mentality because it’s the final day and you know where you’re standing. You’ve made the cut, and now it’s all about getting the win.

“I’m just going to maybe not be more aggressive than the other days, but just have a better mindset and knowing that I can shoot a low round is a big thing. It feels like Sundays are always better than Saturdays.”

Sweden’s Madelene Sagström is in outright fourth place on nine-under after a round of 68, and Denmark’s Nicole Broch Estrup is one shot further back in fifth. Three players are in a share of sixth place with Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall, Australia’s Sarah Kemp and Japan’s Shibuno all on seven-under.