Dame Laura Davies is among 14 players within five shots of gritty Anne Van Dam heading into the mouth-watering final round of the 12th OMEGA Dubai Ladies Classic.
By Kent Gray
Anne Van Dam will take a two-stroke lead and an equally precious endorsement from the first lady of European golf into Saturday’s intriguing shootout for the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Classic’s new Dallah trophy.
Laura Davies is a shock contender for the LET’s season-ending title after drawing within four shots of Van Dam and has every intention of bettering her Dubai best, a bridesmaid finish in 2007, today. But the 54-year-old Dame, who rolled back the years with a sparkling 66 on Friday, is also a big fan of Van Dam’s and concedes the mercurial Dutchwoman will take some beating given her length off the tee.
“Well, I have a chance but it depends,” said Davies of her hopes of banking the US$75,000 winner’s bounty and what would be an astonishing 46th LET title.
“I mean we know what young Van Dam can do. She hits it so far she can make birdie on every hole, she really is impressive. It’s about time she did really well because she’s impressed me with her distance for a long, long time.“
Van Dam showed plenty of Dutch courage Friday, scrambling her way through moving day on the Majlis. A closing birdie for a two-under 70 was the reward, taking the 22-year-old to -12 for the championship and within touching distance of a second LET title.
Van Dam can’t have slept easy on her 54-hole lead though given the big names in her rear-view mirror. American Solheim Cupper Angel Yin and Swede Pernilla Lindberg are at -10 while 2016 runner-up Charley Hull and three-time LET winner Aditi Ashok start just three shots back after rounds of 67 and 68 respectively.
Lindberg and Yin join Van Dam in the final threesome off the 1st tee at 11:26am. Yin shapes as arguably the most dangerous threat after scooting up from 25th to T-2 with her best of the day 65. It means the American will be reunited with her new pal Van Dam with whom she was grouped for the first 36 holes. She vowed to renew their friendly rivalry after the second round and duly delivered.
“I think she likes me so much,” Van Dam joked of Yin. “She kicked her own ass this morning saying she needed a low one, and I think it’s really impressive. I don’t know what she had, 7-under, 8-under, something like that [it was -7], so it’s pretty good. Should be fun to play again with her tomorrow and should be a great battle, definitely.”
Lindberg, coming off a T-6 at last month’s Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open at Saadiyat Beach, finished with three successive birdies and had eight in all in her Friday 66 to climb 12 spots up the leaderboard and into contention. She suspects she’ll need a similar birdie blitz to claim her maiden LET title.
“There’s so many good players up there. Someone is going to go out and play a good round. I’m going to stick to my plan from today and I’m going to go home and think about what number I’m going to try to reach tomorrow, and that will be my goal.”
A two-over 74 saw Scot Kelsey MacDonald, second overnight, slip to a tied for 16th at -6, a shot behind newly crowned European No.1 who had a 72.
“Pretty rubbish to be honest,” was Hall’s honest assessment of her third round. “Level par is okay, but I think I played worse than that. I’ll try and shoot a low one tomorrow now.”