Aditi Ashok continued her excellent form at the Magical Kenya Ladies Open firing a bogey-free round of 69 (-4) to hold a six-shot lead heading into the final day.
On the third day of action at Vipingo Ridge, the two-time Olympian had a steady start before rolling in back-to-back birdies on the fifth and six holes.
It wasn’t long before the Indian star made another birdie on the eighth hole, and she made her final one on 12 to have a total of 13-under-par and extend her advantage at the top of the leaderboard.
“It was really good,” said Ashok. “The first couple of holes, I was actually looking at bogeys. I almost hit out of bounds on the first hole, but after that my round was more steady and bogey-free is always a positive.
“I think when the wind is up sometimes you hole putts but sometimes you don’t, so you have to make sure you’re always hitting the greens and taking the big numbers out of play. Then you’re always there looking at birdie even if you don’t make it.”
Ashok, who was runner-up at Vipingo Ridge in 2019, is looking for her fourth victory on the LET and it would be her first since she triumphed at the 2017 Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Open.
But despite having a six-shot advantage, the 24-year-old is putting that to the back of her mind and focusing on small goals.
She added: “I have never actually played with such a lead. I’m trying not to think about it too much and just set some small goals for each hole or each six holes and every nine. Being bogey-free has been one of my goals every day and I’m glad I got there today and hopefully I can do some of that tomorrow.”
Thailand’s April Angurasaranee sits in second place on the leaderboard on seven-under-par after shooting a round of 70 (-3) on day three.
The teenager dropped two shots during her round but made up for it with a birdie on the seventh plus two eagles on the par-five 11th and 15th holes.
“I was very nervous on the first tee and I pulled my shot left for the first few holes with my driver and I’ve never done that, but I was excited,” she said.
“The front nine was just steady with not many birdies or bogeys. On the back nine I was lucky enough to get two eagles on both of the par-fives, and that really hyped me up. It was a great day today and I had so much fun.
“My caddie (Jeadeniphit Cheaisang) and I, we do get along quite a lot. He helped me so much on calming me down and entertaining me. He’s very hyped, he has got so much energy. He tells me I can go for shots that I don’t think I can.”
Three shots back in third place is England’s Cara Gainer on four-under-par after she produced a round of 71 (-2).
Gainer made an eagle, two birdies and two bogeys on day three at Vipingo Ridge in tough and windy conditions.
“I’m really pleased with the week,” said the Englishwoman. “It’s my first tournament back and everyone is a bit rusty with tournament play, I haven’t played since the end of November, so I’m super pleased with how I’ve started the first three days.
“I wanted to start strong into 2023 and the first three days has been good, so hopefully I can have a solid round tomorrow and have a nice finish. It will be a tough task to catch Aditi, but anything can happen out here. I know it’s going to be as windy tomorrow as today so a few loose shots and it’s very easy to rack up a few scores.”
Australia’s Gabriela Ruffels sits in outright fourth place on three-under-par having carded a round of 71 (-2) which included three birdies and one bogey.
“Firstly, it’s been great to come to Kenya,” said Ruffels, who secured her LET card in December. “It’s my first time here and they’re doing such a good job.
“This week has been good, I feel like I’ve stayed patient and today was definitely the windiest. I think what you need to do out on this course is stay patient and wait for your birdies and I’m happy I did that today.
“I think my ball-striking was the best bit, I don’t think I missed many greens and in the wind you have to have pretty strong ball flight and keep it down into the wind but even just my mental game and staying patient.”
England’s Alice Hewson sits in solo fifth place on two-under-par with America’s Gurleen Kaur and Germany’s Esther Henseleit one shot further back in T7.
Rounding out the top 10 are Finland’s Noora Komulainen, Scotland’s Kylie Henry and Denmark’s Amalie Leth-Nissen who sit in a share of eighth place on level par.