Charley Hull harnessed a wind the English player described as “ridiculous” to stay on course for a winning start to the year, one which she hopes will include a Solheim Cup appearance at Gleneagles in September.
On a day of survival in tough conditions at Saadiyat Beach Golf Club in Abu Dhabi, the 22-year-old added a level-par 72 to an opening 67 to stay out in front in the Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open.
Heading into the final round, Hull sits on five-under, one ahead of compatriot Jodi Ewart Shadoff, with three players – Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord, Cajsa Persson from Sweden and Spaniard Luna Sobron – all on three-under.
“It was really tough out there today,” said Hull, who is bidding to land her third title triumph in the pro ranks after wins in the 2014 Lalla Meryem Cup and the 2016 CME Group Tour Championship.
“To give you an example, I flushed a 7-iron 118 yards on hole 17. The pin was 120 yards and I still came up short. I usually hit that club 165-170 yards, so that is a ridiculous wind.
“I’ve still got loads to work on for tomorrow’s round, but I feel good with where my game is at.”
Ewart Shadoff, another strong contender for Catriona Matthew’s Solheim Cup side in Perthshire, picked up two birdies in her last three holes for a two-under 70, which tied the best round of the day.
Matthew sits eight off the lead in joint-21st after a second-round 74, with Kylie Henry three behind her compatriot following a 73. Carly Booth had another tough day, having to settle for a 77 to lie 54th on 14-over.
Elsewhere, Aboyne teenager Shannon McWilliam continued to give a good account of herself in the South American Women’s Amateur Championship in Chile. She sits joint-tenth on three-over-par at the halfway stage, having started and finished with a birdie in a second-round 74 at Club de Golf Los Leones in Santiago. Connie Jaffrey (Troon Ladies) carded the same score to sit joint-20th on five-over.
In the men’s event at the same venue, Liberton’s Kieran Cantley shot a second level-par to sit just inside the top 20, with Euan Walker (Barassie) three behind him after rounds of 74-73.