21 August 2021: Anna Nordqvist soared into contention at the AIG Women’s Open on Saturday and felt like her wonderful round of 65 had been coming. Nanna Koerstz Madsen has a share of the lead at 9-under through 54 holes. The Dane shot 68. Meanwhile, Aditi Ashok suffered late punishment to take a 75 on her card.
Aditi got off to a horrendous start, conceding three straight bogeys from the second hole. But she bounced back with a resilient push, producing a hattrick of birdies from the sixth holes to get even with the course.
The determined Indian tried hard as she could to nourish her card, but a bogey on the eleventh was followed by six pars to the 17th. As she reached the 18th tee, she looked set to bring it home with just a single dent on her card. But a double on the final hole set her back to a 75, dropping her to 4-over in T58 with amateur Annabell Fuller.
After successive scores of 71 on Thursday and Friday, Nordqvist fired seven birdies – including three in the last five holes – to post the best score of the week to date and reach nine under for the Championship.
The Swede is seeking a third major title 12 years after her first and is feeling very much at home on the links of Carnoustie, where she tied for eighth a decade ago.
“I felt like I hit the ball really, really well last week in the hard wind at Dumbarnie in The Scottish Open,” said Nordqvist, who finished T12 in that event.
“So it’s started to feel like it’s come together. I feel like the last few weeks have been solid. I just haven’t made as many putts or scored as well as I played.
My caddie just told me to keep patient. In links golf you test your patience and I feel like I’ve had a great attitude this week.
“You just never know when your hard work is going to pay off. You’ve got to keep plugging along and putting yourself in positions and all I can do tomorrow is go out there and try to shoot the best round that I can.
“I love Carnoustie. I think it’s a great venue and I’m just enjoying being back in Scotland.”
Nordqvist had four birdies on her front nine – including three in a row from the sixth – and then picked up further shots at the 14th, 15th and 17th.
She held a share of the lead as she finished her round on a soggy afternoon in Angus, but was not concerned about where she might be positioned heading into the final day.
“Right now I’m just happy with my round,” she said. I had quite a bit of family and friends out there watching, so that meant a lot to me.
“I’m ready to get in, I thought we beat the rain in on the last but I hit a great shot in in the rain.
“We thought it was probably going to rain a lot more today than it did, so we got a good break there. Overall, Scotland has been pretty nice to us this week and we’ll see what it gives us tomorrow.”
Carnoustie is known as golf’s greatest test and Nordqvist has fond memories of her previous AIG Women’s Open visit in 2011, when she played alongside a future Champion.
“I remember it was me, Caroline Masson and Sophia Popov off at 6.15 in the first group on the first day. We laughed about it the other day,” she added.
“I love Carnoustie, it’s a great venue, good golf course. I’ve only played it a few times but every time I go it’s just such a treat.
“It’s a challenging course because you have to challenge some of the pot bunkers off the tee or you’re going to be standing with real long irons in.
“Overall I think it’s a fun venue and I’m enjoying having fans back because it feels likes a good major championship again.”
Nordqvist’s performance drew high praise from her playing partner Ariya Jutanugarn, the 2016 AIG Women’s Open Champion who impressed herself with a 68 to reach six under.
“It’s so much fun to watch her play and I feel like she made every putt,” said Jutanugarn.