Olivia Mehaffey joined in lead at Troon by Linda Lundqvist

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Olivia Mehaffey is still in with a chance of retaining her Helen Holm Scottish Women’s Open title, but the defending champion has had to share the overnight lead in Troon heading into the final day.

After an outstanding opening round of 67 left her two shots clear of the field, the 18 year-old’s second day score of 74 put her three under par. Her nearest rival, Linda Lundqvist, simply put in a steady par round to become joint leader in what is her first Helen Holm.

The day started with sunshine and blue skies but as it clouded over later in the morning, the breeze whipped up, although it did not seem to affect Lundqvist.

The 19 year-old from Sweden said: “I am very pleased as it is my second time in Scotland and I’m not used to this wind. I did not expect to be leading going into the final round, so I am very happy.”

Mehaffey, however, found the conditions tough out on the Portland course. “The wind made it really hard,” she admitted.

“I got off to a bad start with two bogeys and I was a wee bit shaken up coming away with a bogey on one of the easier holes but then I made some really good pars out there and a couple of birdies. So I felt in control even though I had a couple of bad shots and still managed to get a par out of it, and that’s what it was about today.

“To put yourself into contention after two rounds is all you have to do and so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. If it blows, it will just make it more exciting.”

Her fellow countrywoman Jessica Ross from Queens Sport Golf Club lies in third and is the only other player to remain under par. Bethan Popel from Long Ashton was the only player who shot a sub-par round on Saturday. Her score of 71 put her tied for sixth place.

She said: “Yesterday I was three under through nine and shot two over so had a poor back nine. Today I was one over through nine, so nice and steady and then came in in two under. So I was really pleased with that as I thought the last five holes into the breeze was tough and I was pleased how I played them.”

Shannon McWilliam from Aboyne remains the leading Scot; her round of 75 gave her a tie for tenth place which is where the 16 year-old wanted to be. “I was just playing par golf because of the conditions and as I was top 10,” she said.

“Downwind I was planning on getting birdies which I did, and into the wind I was just playing par golf, and a bogey is okay as I was under par. I’ll just stick to my game plan tomorrow on the Old Course.”

The field is now cut to 66 players and ties, and the final day’s play takes place on Royal Troon’s Old Course.