The 24-year-old was one of just four players to shoot in the 60’s at the popular NSW north coast resort on day three, a 5-under 67 taking her to 11-under-par for the tournament and five in front of nearest challenger Holly Clyburn.
Clyburn held the lead for the first 36 holes but struggled in difficult conditions on day three with several spells of heavy rain making the course play long and difficult.
A 2-over 74 was the end result and while she would have preferred to shoot a couple less she is far from out of contention.
Four players shared third at 5-under while Australia’s Hannah Green, the pre-tournament favourite, battled to an even par 72 to remain 4-under and seventh alone.
Fellow LPGA Tour rookie Rebecca Artis is a shot further back and T8, both Australians no doubt feeling they are still in with a chance tomorrow.
“I thought it was tough out there then I glanced at a leaderboard on 16 and thought ‘wow, what course is Celine playing’,“ she said after the round.
“Even par wasn’t too bad out there but I definitely left a lot out there again so I’m hoping tomorrow everything can go well and I shoot a low score.”
Asked what she thought she would need to shoot Sunday to if the trophy Green said she felt lower than many were suggesting.
“I’m thinking maybe 6 (under),” she said when asked if 3-under-par would be enough. “I know it’s gettable at this course but we’ll just have to see how tomorrow goes.
“I think you have to take advantage of the par 5s, definitely, and also some of the par-3s. If you hit a good shot into the middle of the green you’re 15 feet away from the pin.”
While Green will be looking to attack from the opening shot tomorrow England’s Clyburn thinks something less will be required for her to claim a second Australian win.
The 27-year-old had mixed feelings with her round given the difficulty of the conditions but says she doesn’t feel she’s out of it despite being five behind.
“I’m quite happy to be where I am,” she said. “I am disappointed at being 2 over for the day and minus six total but other than that, you just don’t know what tomorrow can bring.
“I feel like if you shoot anything under par tomorrow that will get it done. I had number in mind for today, just to get to double figures, and I think double figures will get it done.”
While the weather made scoring difficult on day three Clyburn also said playing in carts was less than ideal and may have taken longer than walking with the ’90 degree’ rule in effect.
“I know where the organisers are coming from where we need to get around but at the same time it’s just in and out and it probably takes longer going off the course to on the path,” she said.
“I know we’ve had five holes of trouble out there but it’s 10 to five now and it’s taken us (five hours)....it’s just really hard.”
More rain is expected tomorrow with tournament organisers delaying the release of the final round draw while a decision is made on how best to ensure the event is finished on time.
The final round will be broadcast on FOX Sports Channel 507 from 1pm tomorrow.
SIGNATURE HOLES - 16TH AT MONA VALE GC SYDNEY:
Want video tips delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to iseekgolf.com newsletters.