Aditi Ashok lying T25 as Minjee Lee retains a slender lead in LA Open

Minjee Lee and Nanna Koerstz Madsen produced brilliant 67s in the third round to set up a thrilling finale to the LA Open. Aditi Ashok shot an even 71

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Aditi Ashok during the first round of the Evian Championship - LET Image

28 April 2019: In one of her most consistent weeks this season on the LPGA Tour, Aditi Ashok continued her good run in the LA Open with another even round on Saturday. The Indian posted 71 for a second day running. Minjee Lee and Nanna Koerstz Madsen scored 67 each as they remained atop the leaderboard. Lee is 11-under through 54 holes, with Madsen hot on her heels at 10-under 203.

Aditi is currently down to 121 in the Rolex Rankings, having missed the cut in five of her last six events. This week though, she has been playing her typically resilient brand of golf to regroup and earn a good finish in the LA Open.

She needed four birdies again, as she did in the second round, to just stay even with the course. And Aditi did just that, making birdies at 2, 4, 12 & 16 on her third round card of 71. Aditi was three under as she reached the turn, but a bogey at the par-4 ninth hole threw a spanner in the works.

Aditi would bogey 11 & 13 too as the wind picked up at the Wilshire Country Club. Eventually, she needed 37 strokes for the return stretch after taking only 34 on her way out. At one under through the third round, Aditi is sitting at T25, with only three strokes separating her from a spot inside the top ten.

Minjee Lee birdied four of the first six holes, but a triple bogey seven at the third hole left her bruised very early in the day. The overnight leader steadied her boat with three straight pars, before knocking in three birdies on her way to the clubhouse for a 67. It was a fighting effort from the Aussie to retain a one-stroke advantage over the field.

“I think both of us, Nanna and I, we made a lot of birdies today,” said Lee, who carded seven birdies to Koerstz Madsen’s six. “I think we sort of fed off each other, which was really nice.”

“I just sort of tried to forget about it. What can you do that early in the round?” added Lee. “Just try to get it back as much as I could and try and stay in the lead. Yeah, I mean, pretty much what I said before: try and hit as many good shots as I could out there.”

Madsen started fluently as well, making birdies on the first two holes. But the course threatened to upend her at the bend, where she conceded two bogeys in three holes from the ninth. But the Dane blazed a trail at the end – squeezing out a hat-trick of birdies from the 15th hole.

“I have this thing where if I get too nervous or mad, I can take a lemon and bite on the lemon,” said Koerstz Madsen. The second-year LPGA player got the idea from her mental coach and has been using the method all season. “It’s like taking your senses away from whatever you’re on and thinking about this lemon, which is really disgusting and not very nice,” said Koerstz Madsen.

She only bit a lemon once today, after a three-putt on No. 11. Overall, she has felt good on the course over the last three rounds. Koerstz Madsen, who will be in the final grouping for the first time in her LPGA career, said she will not do anything differently tomorrow to stay calm. “Really just focus on my own game,” she said. “If it’s enough, that’s good and I’m happy with whatever. I mean, I’m already happy with how I’ve been emotionally this week. Yeah, just going to enjoy tomorrow I think.”

LPGA Notes

WITH A WIN

Minjee Lee would earn her fifth LPGA Tour victory; only Karrie Webb (41), Jan Stephenson (16) and Rachel Hetherington (8) have more wins among Australian players

With the $225,000 winner’s check, Lee would move to $5,317,468 in career earnings, projecting her to move past Katherine Kirk and become the third-winningest player from Australia, behind Karrie Webb ($20,254,718) and Rachel Hetherington ($5,730,915)

Nanna Koerstz Madsen would become the first player from Denmark to win on the LPGA Tour

Koerstz Madsen would become the season’s second Rolex First-Time Winner, joining Celine Boutier