Melrose-born Karis Davidson has set up the chance of landing a stunning breakthrough win in the professional ranks at just 19 after producing a classy display in the third round of the Oates Vic Open.
In strong winds at the 13th Beach Golf Links near Melbourne, Davidson carded a best-of-the-day 67 to move to seven-under-par, one shot behind world No 20 Minjee Lee, in an event that is being co-sanctioned by the LET and the ALPG Tours.
Davidson, who only turned professional in December, signed for six birdies in a bogey-free effort to make her presence felt on a leaderboard that also includes the last two LET Order of Merit winners, Beth Allen and Georgia Hall.
“I just had a really good round today, but I definitely wasn’t expecting to be one off the lead,” she admitted afterwards, having also outscored the likes of Cheyenne Woods, Tiger’s niece, and Solheim Cup player Mel Reid over the first 54 holes.
“This is my first four-day professional event and my goal coming into this week was top 20. But I’m not feeling any pressure. I’m just going to go out tomorrow and do my best and have fun.”
Davidson has lived in Queensland since her family emigrated from Innerleithen 10 years ago and had established herself as one of Australia’s leading amateurs before making the switch to the paid ranks.
Over the last few years, her victories included the Australian Junior Championship and Riversdale Cup, one of the top events on the Australian circuit. She was also a semi-finalist in the Australian Amateur Championship last year and represented her adopted country in the Espirito Santo Trophy.
A two-time Karrie Webb scholarship recipient, Davidson took the decision to turn professional after progressing through all four stages of the Japan LPGA Qualifying School to earn full playing rights for that circuit at the end of last year.
Overnight Lee is still out in front despite a third-round 75, with second-placed Davidson sitting two ahead of another talented young Australian, Hannah Green, as well as Marianne Skarpnord of Norway.
England’s Hall and Edinburgh-based American Allen are both in the hunt, sitting on two-under and one-under respectively heading into the final round. Woods is also one two-under after a 69.