Stephanie Meadow recorded her best round of the week on Saturday at the Toto Japan Classic but is still in need of a big finish in order to boost her chances of reaching the LPGA Tour finale in two weeks’ time.
The Jordanstown woman broke a streak of 73s with a two-under 70 in Shiga, five birdies and three bogeys leading to an improved score, but she is still a long way off the pace at level-par for the tournament.
In a share for 58th for the week, Meadow is currently projected to fall to 82nd in the Race to CME Globe standings, from which only the top-60 earn their places in the CME Group Tour Championship in Naples.
With only next week’s Pelican Women’s Championship left through which she can move inside the cut line, the Galgorm touring pro knows a big final round in Japan will significantly aid her hopes of playing in the finale.
She will be encouraged by the finish to her third round, too, Meadow starting at the 10th and grinding through bogeys at the par-three 12th and par-four 14th either side of a birdie at the par-five 13th before catching fire on her back nine.
A birdie at the par-five first was followed by a bogey at the par-three third, but three birdies on her way back to the clubhouse at the par-fours fourth and sixth and par-three eighth has her carrying some momentum into Sunday.
Meadow will know there is room for improvement, too, after she hit just half her fairways in regulation and only 12 greens in regulation in her third round.
Meanwhile, Japan’s Momoko Ueda maintained her midway lead heading into Sunday as a strong back nine helped her to a four-under 68 on day three that has her one shot clear at 14-under-par.
The local favourite had struggled to two birdies and two bogeys on her front nine before roaring back on her inward nine, five birdies and a bogey seeing her set the pace and return to the top of the leaderboard.
Her advantage is only one, though, after Gemma Dryburgh roared up the standings with a superb seven-under 65, which threatened to be a lot better after she opened her back nine with four straight birdies but levelled out as she parred her way back to the clubhouse.
At 13-under, the Scot is in possession of solo second, one shot ahead of Japan’s Miyu Yamashita, whose 69 took her to 12-under-par, with there being a small gap down to five players tied for fourth at 10-under-par, including Sweden’s Linn Grant.