A CLASSIC Sunday showdown is brewing at the Women's Australian Open with World Number One Lydia Ko and five-time winner Karrie Webb just one shot out of the lead with 18 holes to play.
A dream pairing of the two crowd favourites for Sunday's final round looked likely until Japan's Haru Nomura made one of only a handful of birdies at the difficult par-4 18th to force herself into a three-way share of the lead late on Saturday afternoon.
Danielle Kang, Jenny Shin and Nomura are all at 9-under with one round to go, Webb and Ko at 8-under with a group of four players a shot further back at 7-under and T6.
It was a dramatic third round at The Grange Golf Club in South Australia with overnight leaders Holly Clyburn and Catriona Matthew finding themselves joined at the top of the leader board by three other players before they even putted out at the first green.
Ko was one of those who asserted herself early, four straight birdies to open her round giving her part of that five way tie at 8-under as Clyburn and Matthew lined up their putts at the first hole.
“It's quite weird to say I was four-under through the first four and then even for the next 14, but I finished well with a birdie on the 17th and a good two-putt on the 18th but it's tough out there,” Ko said after her round.
“I mean, it wasn't as breezy as yesterday but with the contours of the greens and the firmness and everything, it's tough. I'm pretty pleased with my round today.
“It's the best round I've had in the last few days so I'll take it for sure.”
Webb had the opposite start to Ko, unable to get anything to drop until the 7th hole and making her next birdie at the par-5 10th courtesy of a brilliant pitch.
After hitting the flag, Webb brushed in a two-foot birdie putt to get to 8-under and be just one behind then leaders Matthew and Jenny Shin.
But the real highlight for Webb came at the final hole after a bad bounce left her with an awkward stance in a greenside bunker while her ball lay on the grass.
Gripping almost down to the shaft on her wedge, the seven time major winner hit a decent shot but it ran 20 feet past the hole and a momentum killing bogey looked likely.
In the TV commentary booth, defending champion Ko looked on as the Australian legend struck her putt and could be heard begging for the ball to turn as it approached the hole, her request answered when Webb's Bridgestone fell in the left side.
With 18 players bunched within four shots of the lead it promises to be an exciting Sunday at The Grange and Ko and Webb won't have it to themselves.
The LPGA's form player of 2016, Ha Na Jang, is among those at 7-under as is former winner Catriona Matthew.
Australia's Stacey Keating is in the group one shot further back at 6-under after a third consecutive round of 70 while Minjee Lee, who endured a horror 76 on Friday, is at 4-under and an outside chance after shooting an equal best of the day 67.
SUZANN PETTERSEN's SWING THOUGHTS:
WOMEN'S AUSTRALIAN OPEN THIRD ROUND LEADERBOARD
|T4||KARRIE WEBB (AUS)||-8|
|T4||HA NA JANG||-7|
|T10||STACEY KEATING (AUS)||-6|
|T19||MINJEE LEE (AUS)||-5|
|T30||SU OH (AUS)||-2|
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