PAMELA Pretswell remained in contention heading into the final round of the New Zealand Ladies Open but will have to overtake world No 1 Lydia Ko to claim her first Ladies European Tour triumph.
Home favourite Ko, bidding for her third win in the event, moved to the top of the leaderboard at Clearwater Golf Club in Christchurch after following a 69 on Friday with a second-round 68 to sit on eight-under.
The 18-year-old leads by a shot from French rookie Justine Dreher (67-70), with Pretswell one further back alongside Danish duo Emily Kristine Pedersen and Nanna Koerstz Madsen.
“Today was very solid and good follow up round from yesterday,” said Pretswell after signing for a 70 that started with a bogey but was flawless thereafter, producing birdies at the fifth, 12th and 14th.
“I gave myself a lot of chances, just didn’t get the putts to drop. The pins wete on some very tough slopes today on tricky greens, but I’m happy with my play.”
The 26-year-old Lanark-born player finished sixth in the same event 12 months ago and went on to finish as the top Scot on the LET money-list in 14th position.
“I had a good rest this afternoon and now I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” added Pretswell. “We can’t control what Lydia does tomorrow so I’m just going to go out and enjoy the round and see where we are at the end of the day.”
Attracted by Ko, of course, Prestswell described the crowds at this week’s event as “amazing”. She added: “It makes such a great evebt - if only it was like this every week!”
Ko said that Friday’s opening effort did not represent her best golf but was pleased with today’s performance.
“I hit the ball much better today and had a lot of chances” she said. “I just need to focus on my game tomorrow.”
Dreher, a 23-year-old, arrived in Australia in early January hoping to earn a place in all three of the ALPG major events.
She finished fifth at the Oates Victorian Open last weekend and has now given herself a chance to win in only her second major tournament as a professional playing alongside Ko.
Overnight leader Nicole Broch Larsen dropped three shots off the lead after following her first-round 66 with a one-over-par 73.
There are 15 players within four shots of the leader who still have a strong chance of victory, though Ko is undoubtedly the title favourite.
Gemma Dryburgh, who is making her LET debut after a top-10 finish in the Qualifying School at the end of last year, secured her first pay-day after making the cut along with Pretswell and two other Scots, Kelsey MacDonald and Heather MacRae.
Dryburgh is tied for 27th on one-under after rounds of 73 and 70 while MacDonald (73-73) and MacRae (75-71) are in a group sharing 52nd on two-over.
Kylie Walker was the only Scot among those who started - Sally Watson withdrew due to a back injury before the first round - to make an early exit. The two-time LET winner fell two shots short after efforts of 73 and 75.
Russell Knox has his work cut out to make it to the final round in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The 30-year-old is lying in joint-94th on one-over after the opening 36 holes of the PGA Tour event in California.
Four bogeys in five holes from the third contributed to Knox carding a two-over-par 74 at Spyglass Hills.
His third round is at Monterey Peninsula, having opened with a 71 at Pebble Beach on Thursday.
Korean Sung Kang shot an 11-under-par 60 in his second round at Monterey Peninsula to share the halfway lead with Japan’s Hiroshi Iwata, with Phil Mickelson a shot behind the pair.
Colin Montgomerie is eight shots behind Bernhard Langer after the opening round of the Chubb Classic, a Champions Tour event being held at Naples in Florida.
It followed Langer, the circuit’s No 1, opening with a ten-under-par 62 at Twin Eagles Golf Club to lead by four shots from Jay Haas.
Montgomerie, who has made a sluggish start to the new over-50s season, is lying joint-20th after a 70 that included an eagle and four birdies but also four dropped shots.
Sandy Lyle is tied for 50th after a one-over-par 73.