Leona Maguire saw her chances of picking up a second LPGA Tour title disappear after she fell eleven shots behind Brooke Henderson heading into the final round of the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions.
Maguire carded a one-over 73 to slip to three-under for the tournament which dropped her down to T16 on a day where all around her were making gains.
The Cavan native teed off seven shots adrift of the Canadian and unfortunately her first move in round three was in the wrong direction after she dropped a shot on the par-3 6th.
The world number eleven did get back to par for the day with a birdie on 11 but was unable to launch a back nine charge with a birdie on 14 sandwiched between two bogeys.
At the top, Henderson will take a three shot lead into the final round over Nelly Korda and Nasa Hataoka after she ground out a three-under 69 to move to fourteen-under.
Round three didn’t bring the barrage of birdies she would have been hoping four but gains on the second, ninth, eleventh and sixteenth ensured she kept Korda and Hataoka at arms length.
The world number seven limited the mistakes on her card with only one bogey meaning she has dropped just two shots in the first 54 holes.
It was a different style of golf for the two-time major winner who showed she had the stomach for the fight particularly with a gutsy birdie on 16 and she is relishing a Sunday battle.
“That putt on 16 was a huge help,” said Henderson, who is chasing her 13th LPGA victory. Last season she won twice, including her second major, the Evian Championship in France, but ended the year struggling with a bad back. “It wasn’t quite as smooth today, but big putts like that in big moments definitely help.
World number two Korda has taken a while to catch fire in each round with the front nine proving a frustration for her. The Olympic champion will be hoping to see the ball disappear into the hole more often to arrest the three shot deficit.
“I think you’ve just got to find the bottom of the hole,” Korda said. “That’s the key out here. I don’t know what the weather is supposed to be like, but they’re projecting it to be pretty windy, so just hitting some consistent shots and getting the ball in the cup.”