Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire are locked together on nine-under-par and seven shots adrift of Céline Boutier at the LPGA Drive On Championship.
After Meadow remained in neutral in round two with a level-par 72 she took to the fast lane on Saturday with a fine effort of 67 to climb to nine-under alongside Maguire in a share of 39th place.
The Jordanstown native, making her first start of the season, burst out of the traps with three birdies in five holes before she finished her round with another three birdie stretch in five holes and just one bogey coming on 16.
Maguire was two shots worse with a 69 but she put on a sprint finish to join Meadow.
The defending champion birdied five of her last eight holes to turn a frustrating round into a good one.
The Cavan native birdied the second but struggled for the remainder of the front nine, dropping shots on 6, 8 and the tenth before she finally landed another birdie on 11.
Maguire went through the gears on the back nine and reeled off three successive birdies on 13, 14 and 15 before carding another on 18.
Frenchwoman Boutier leads, Alison Lee, Moriya Jutanugarn and Hae Ran Ryu by the minimum on -16 after a superb 65.
Boutier, a 29-year-old two-time tour winner, made an eagle 3 on the par-5 second hole and added two birdies that offset a bogey at the par-3 eighth. She played the back nine in 4 under for a 16 under total and a one-stroke lead over three others heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I feel like I had a lot of birdie opportunities today,” she said. “I didn’t even make all of them, but I feel like because I was playing really steady and focusing on hitting good shots and having the birdie chances, I feel like I made a few.”
The Solheim Cup star is chasing a first win since 2021 but knows she needs another low one to hold off the chasing pack.
“There is definitely a lot of opportunities, so I think I’m going to have to shoot a pretty low score to be able to have a chance,” Boutier said.
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