Neat and tidy for Walsh as Tamburlini masterclass lights up Joburg

Kevin Kent

Lauren Walsh (Credit: LET)

Kevin Kent

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Moving day at the Joburg Ladies Open saw Lauren Walsh post her best round of the week to date but another charge from Swiss rookie, Chiara Tamburlini, sees clear daylight at the top.

Ireland’s sole remaining standard bearer,  Walsh began her Saturday on the formidable back-nine and despite a run of six straight pars from the 12th through the 17th, bogeys on the 11th and again on the par-4 18th would see her turn in two-over for the day and five-over for the tournament.

Earlier in the week Walsh had pinpointed the par-5s as the scoring opportunities of Modderfontein and this would prove prescient. Birdies on the par-5 1st, 5th and 8th holes with another on the 2nd saw Walsh fight her way back in a fine display of battling on this tricky course. Just the one dropped shot on her way home came on the par-4 4th and would see Walsh finish one-under for her day and on two-over for the tournament. With a good Sunday there are opportunities to make some inroads and grab a decent haul of OOM points.

If under-par rounds were hard to come by this week, three in a row seems fantastical, but Tamburlini served up just that with another sublime round of 67 to pull well clear at the top of the leaderboard as overnight leader van der Westhuizen’s struggles saw her slip back with a 77 today.

Tamburlini was in scintillating form as she negotiated her way around what will surely be the round of the tournament. Birdie on her opening hole would set the tone for her day. Three more were to follow on the subsequent par-5s and again on the par-4 6th would see her turn on -12. Her assault on the course would continue into the afternoon with two further birdies coming in a flawless card of six-under for the day.

The Swiss sits six strokes clear at the top on -14. The nearest challenger and hoping to keep Tamburlini honest on the final day is Thailand’s Aunchisa Utama on eight-under. Another of the field to go under-par in all three rounds, Utama sits one clear of joint third duo of Spaniard, Luna Sobron Galmes and the Czech Republic’s Tereza Melecka on seven-under. With still just 29 players under-par for the tournament, there is sure to be some jostling for position in the chasing pack as we move through Sunday.

Speaking following her remarkable round, Saturday’s overnight leader was asked to reflect on her day: “It just feels amazing to be honest!” the 24-year-old said. “I played really solid again today from start to end basically. I’m just really excited to go into tomorrow with a six-shot lead. Some really good putting today. Some really good recovery shots. Just honestly through the board pretty good from tee to green. I had a couple missed tee shots on the back nine but with short game I was able to keep going and keep the score card clean. Overall, a really good performance.”

Asked about her composure during her round: “I was very aware [of my position]. I was aware the whole day. I was really nervous before the round. I was chatting to my sister on the driving range telling her, ‘I’m so nervous’. Honestly once I got through the first hole, I was really calm. Not crazy nervous the entire apart from the three-footer on the last.”

Walsh begins her final round at 9.34am, again on the back nine, with Emily Price and Czech, Jana Melichova. She will look to carry on the form from her final nine holes into Sunday’s final round to make moves up towards the business end of the leaderboard.

The leaders in the final three-ball will start their day at 11.10am as Tamburlini will be joined on her route around with Utama and Luna Soren.

A big ask to overhaul a six-shot deficit on Sunday, particularly if the overnight leader continues to bully her way around Modderfontein.


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