Skarpnord eyes back-to-back titles

Marianne Skarpnord

English teenager Georgia Hall is attempting to go wire-to-wire in the 2016 Women’s Oates Vic Open at Barwon Heads – but the presence of defending champion Marianne Skarpnord looms large over the final day.

Hall, who has held the tournament lead from the opening day, ended the third round at nine-under par, two shots ahead of Norway’s Skarpnord with France’s Justine Dreher and Denmark’s Nanna Madsen a further shot back.

Skarpnord shot a four-under par 69 to put herself in contention to become the first ever player to win back-to-back Women’s Oates Vic Opens.

But Hall is determined to hold onto her lead, saying her confidence is high after making a good up and down from just off the 18th green for a closing birdie and a round of two under 71.

“I hit it really close all day and didn’t hole much,” Hall said.

“I got so many pars out there so to hole a five-footer on the last for birdie has made me a little bit happier and I look forward to tomorrow.”

Skarpnord, who had finance Richard Green follow her around for part of today’s round after the defending men’s champion missed the cut, sparked her round into action when she holed out for eagle on the par-five fifth hole.

“That was a good break for me,” Skarpnord said.

“I hit in the trees on the second hole and made bogey again and then I made a good birdie on the third and fourth and having that eagle just made this day a good day instead of an average day.

“It was really good on the front nine and then I really struggled on the greens on the back nine. I felt that I hit the putts pretty good but I just read them wrong.”

The 19-year-old Hall said her parents and family are following the tournament back at home in Bournemouth via the tournament’s live stream and she’s hoping to give them something to celebrate tomorrow night.

“I’m just going to play my best and see what happens,” Hall said. “I’m not going to think about winning until maybe the last few holes and see what position I’m in.”

She’s also looking forward to a Sunday pairing with LET legend Skarpnord, who she’s yet to meet.

“I know she’s a great player and I look forward to meeting her tomorrow and going out and around with her,” Hall said.

Young Australian Su Oh sits in seventh place at three-under par and, having finished runner-up to Skarpnord last year, will be one to watch in the opening holes tomorrow.

The field has been reduced to the top 37 players – including ties - for the final round and that includes tournament drawcard Karrie Webb.

The Hall of Fame inductee bounced back from a bogey-bogey start to shoot a three-under par 70 and be in a tie for 27th.

Webb fired five birdies after her shaky start and admitted the early morning tee time may have been a factor.

“It was a bit of a slow start and an early tee time at 7.20am, so a couple of bogeys to start the round didn’t really get the adrenaline flowing too much,” Webb said.

“But I managed to make the turn at one under and with another couple of birdies on the front nine brings us here.

“The course was playing much easier than yesterday due to the wind. So while it would have been nice to have played better, it was good to shoot under par.”

England’s Laura Davies won’t be playing on Sunday despite shooting a one-under par 72. She finished at six-over par.

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