With 18 holes remaining the ISPS Handa World Invitational presented by AVIV Clinics, Amanda Doherty will sleep on the 54-hole lead for the first time in her career, alone at the top at -12. Doherty, who looks to be the first player since Patty Tavatanakit at the 2021 Chevron Championship to win in wire-to-wire (no ties) fashion, recorded a 1-under 72 on Saturday to hold a one-stroke lead over Peiyun Chien and Georgia Hall. The 24-year-old rebounded after going bogey-birdie-double bogey on Nos. 3-5, to finish out the day with four more birdies and just one more bogey in her last 11 holes.
“I got off to a little bit of a slow start. I tend to do that though, so it doesn't freak me out too much,” said Doherty. “Yeah, happy I turned things around.”
A win would make Doherty the season’s seventh Rolex First-Time Winner, and second straight after Ashleigh Buhai’s breakout major moment at the AIG Women’s Open last week. Doherty, who has never earned a top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour, said she’s resorting to past experiences in contention on the Epson Tour as she prepares for the final grouping on Sunday.
“I'm excited. I'm a little bit nervous though. I would be lying if I wasn't,” said Doherty, who could become the fifth different American to win this season with a victory in Northern Ireland. “To me the nerves just mean that I care and that I'm excited, and it's just kind of good energy going into tomorrow.
Chien and Hall both carded third-round 70s to stay in it heading into the last day. The Chinese Taipei native Chien got off to a hot start with a bogey-free front nine that included three birdies in her first four holes, but had to regroup quickly after a bogey on No. 12 and a double bogey two holes later on 14. Two birdies coming in, with one on her 54th hole, helped settle the pressure as she too looks for her first Tour win.
“The course is very firm this afternoon. I play with Georgia so I learn a lot from her. She's pretty consistent. Not a lot of emotions,” said Chien. “I would say after that double I just forget it and keep breathing, talk with my caddie. It just really helped me to just forget it and relax my shoulder.
So I think I'm doing very well.”
Three players sit in a tie for fourth at -4, LPGA Tour rookie Allisen Corpuz, five-time LET winner Emily Kristine Pedersen and four-time LET winner Maja Stark. Linn Grant, who sits second on the Race to Costa del Sol standings, is solo seventh at -9, with Liz Youngand Lee-Anne Pace in a tie for eighth at -8. Pace started at a lightning pace, opening with six birdies in her first seven holes to get as low as -11, but stumbled in her back nine to finish off the round with a 3-under 70.
“So been putting a lot, and, yeah, paid off on the front nine definitely. I think on the back nine I think I put myself in difficult positions. I was long a lot or short, so putting was a bit more difficult,” said Pace, who last won on the LPGA Tour at the 2014 Blue Bay LPGA. “Obviously three jab on 16 didn't help, but I'm playing well. I strike the ball well. Yeah, I think if I make a couple better decisions tomorrow I might still be in it.”
Five players are tied for 10th at -7. Only two players in 15th place or better – within six of the lead - are LPGA Tour winners. Ireland’s own Leona Maguire shot a 3-over 76 to sit T16 at -5 overall. A second cut was made following the conclusion of the third round to the top 35 players and ties. There were 39 players who made the Saturday cut at -1, including sponsor invite and Epson Tour member Lucy Li. On the men’s side of the draw, Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson holds a three-stroke lead at -11 with 18 holes remaining.
WITH A WIN
Amanda Doherty, Peiyun Chien, Maja Stark, Allisen Corpuz, Emily Kristine Pedersen or Linn Grant would become the season’s seventh Rolex First-Time Winner of the LPGA Tour season, following Leona Maguire (LPGA Drive On Championship), Nanna Koerstz Madsen (Honda LPGA Thailand), Atthaya Thitikul (JTBC Classic), Jennifer Kupcho(Chevron Championship), Ayaka Furue (Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open) and Ashleigh Buhai (AIG Women’s Open)
Doherty (2021) or Chien (2016) would be the fourth past Epson Tour graduate to win in 2022, following Maguire (2019), Koerstz Madsen (2017) and Marina Alex (2013)
Doherty would be the first player since Patty Tavatanakit at the 2021 Chevron Championship to win in wire-to-wire (no ties) fashion
Doherty or Corpuz would be the fifth different American to win this season
Doherty, Corpuz or Grant would be the third LPGA Tour rookie to win in 2022
Chien would be the seventh different LPGA Tour winner from Chinese Taipei
Chien would cross the $1 million mark in career earnings with the $225,000 winner’s prize ($1,041,270)
Georgia Hall would earn her third LPGA Tour victory and first since her win at the 2020 AmazingCre Portland Classic
Hall would also earn her second LET title of the year, following her first at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International
Stark or Grant would make it the 100th official victory on the LET by a Swedish player
Stark could accept immediate LPGA Tour Membership