Charley Hull and Lilia Vu sit in a share of first place on nine-under-par after three rounds of the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath.
Home favorite Hull fired a round of 68 (-4) on day three in Surrey to propel herself into contention at the final major of the year.
The three-time LET winner made a birdie on the first before dropping a shot on the second, she then made further birdies on eight and 11.
Hull dropped another shot on the 14th but then got into a groove making three consecutive birdies on 15, 16 and 17 to move to the top of the leaderboard.
“It was really good,” said Hull. “Obviously it was so windy today, but we dug deep. I struck the ball pretty well. I was pretty confident and felt good out there, and I'm pretty proud of myself. I can't wait to get back in the bath and just chill tonight. Another late tee time tomorrow.
“I've played the course a few more times and now I just feel excited and comfortable and just really enjoying it. Golf is a game. It's a sport and you play it because it's fun, and I just enjoy it, I'd like to enjoy it on the golf course, and good or bad, I love it.”
The 27-year-old will be seeking to better her previous best result at the AIG Women’s Open, which was a tie for 12th place at Royal Birkdale in 2014.
She added: “It would be absolutely unbelievable to hoist the trophy, what Georgia did in 2018 – that was unbelievable. To do that again would be unreal. But one step at a time and just go out there and have fun. it's great to have so many crowds and it's nice to have home support.”
While it was a similar story for Vu, who fired a round of 67 (-5) to be the co-leader after 54 holes at the AIG Women’s Open.
The American, who won the 2023 Chevron Championship, had seven birdies and two bogeys on her scorecard.
“Today was really about, for me, just in terms of confidence,” she said. “It's been a while since Chevron that I actually felt pretty decent about my game and where it's at.
“I'm just going to do the same thing I did today, just focusing on tee shots and giving myself a good opportunity for birdies. Just do that tomorrow and not think too much about the wind because every time that happens, it just slips away from me.
“You're always nervous no matter what position you're in because if you're leading, you don't have the win yet. You never really have it until the final round, the 72nd hole and you're done with your putt. I'm not going to be thinking too much about it. I'm just going to play my game tomorrow.”
Angel Yin, from the United States, and Korea’s Hyo-Joo Kim are in a tie for third place after 54 holes on eight-under-par.
Yin, who won the 2017 Omega Dubai Ladies Classic on the LET, fired a round of 67 (-5) with all six birdies and one bogey coming in her final 10 holes.
The American said: “I think stayed patient; I played it safe playing with the wind. Obviously, the wind was a big challenge, so I was very mindful of the wind and I didn't force anything.
“I had eight pars and on the back nine, I got a few birdies. I was hoping for a bogey-free round, but I had that hole, but it was okay. I didn't capitalise on the last two holes but that's also okay.
“Tomorrow, I think you're going to see a lot of aggressive and good golf. It's going to be great for the fans. The turnout this week is unbelievable, and as a golfer, you're appreciative of all the fans who come out, especially when the weather is like this; it's not that great. It’s so amazing to see.”
American Ally Ewing, who led after the first two rounds, sits in outright fifth place on seven-under-par after carding a round of 75 (+3) on day three.
Ewing said: “Obviously the situation was tough, coming out with pretty windy conditions. It took me a little bit longer than I would have liked to settle in. The nerves were obviously there but at the same time, I was mentally in a good place to know that I was going to be presented with challenges.
“I didn't execute shots quite like I wanted to early on but I fought really hard today, and you know I'm teeing it up tomorrow with still a great chance to win this golf tournament.”
Sweden’s Linn Grant climbed into the top 10 and is alone in sixth place on six-under-par after firing a round of 68 (-4).
The 2022 Race to Costa del Sol champion rolled in birdies on holes three, six and eight before a dropped shot on the ninth.
However, the five-time LET winner bounced back with birdies on 10 and 12 before another dropped shot on the 14th but she added another birdie on 16 for her round of four-under.
“I’m very pleased,” said Grant. “Going out this afternoon I said to Mikey [Curry], if we can get any shots under par today, that would probably give us a good chance tomorrow. I'm really happy with how I played and what the score turned out to be.
“I also think the first five holes are really tough. I just hit the ball solid. I guess I had some lucky bounces as well, and that's what you need out here. I tried to keep that momentum going throughout the whole round.
“Tomorrow I’m just kind of going to go out like I did today. I have a score in mind but also give it a chance without playing too aggressive and being too stupid, I would say. Just play at my targets.”
Korea’s Jiyai Shin and American Andrea Lee are in a share for seventh place on five-under-par after shooting rounds of 69 and 72, respectively.
Five players sit in a share of ninth place with American duo Nelly Korda and Alison Lee alongside Korea’s Amy Yang, France’s Perrine Delacour and Japan’s Nasa Hataoka on four-under-par.