By Ben Parsons at Carnoustie
Anna Nordqvist soared into a share of the AIG Women’s Open lead with a flawless round on a thrilling moving day at Carnoustie.
Swede Nordqvist fired seven birdies in a bogey-free 65 to jump 22 places into a tie for the lead with Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen, as heavy rain fell on the Angus coast.
The Scandinavian duo are one ahead of American Lizette Salas, while impressive Scottish amateur Louise Duncan is in a group of four players two shots back.
“I feel like I've been playing really solid this week and last week at the Scottish (Open),” Nordqvist said after signing for the lowest round of the tournament so far.
“I hit the ball really well so I think it's been coming together for a while, but I’ve just been very steady. I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens today. I gave myself a lot of good chances and that's going to be the difference.”
— AIG Women’s Open (@AIGWomensOpen) August 21, 2021
Nordqvist will be last out with drier conditions expected on the final day. And the two-time major champion knows she can only focus on her own game as she bids for a maiden Women’s Open title.
“There's just so many good players and it always seems to be someone shooting a really low one on the last day, and it's getting really tight,” she added.
“All I can really do is try to shoot another low round and see where it puts me. I'm just trying to focus on what I can control and just enjoy playing golf.”
Nordqvist’s brilliance was warmly received by the Carnoustie crowd but the loudest roar of the day was reserved for 21-year-old home favourite Duncan on the last.
Duncan rolled in a 12ft birdie putt to close as her unforgettable week at her first major tournament continued.
“It felt great,” she said about the euphoric moment on 18. “To have everyone supporting me and cheering me on, like that is just phenomenal.
“It felt a bit surreal and I almost didn't hear. I don't know what I was thinking but didn't hear it. So it would be great to watch the footage back and just be able to relive that for the rest of my life."
Almost certain to win the Smith Salver award as leading amateur, the Stirling University student is in with a chance of creating history with a charge for the ultimate crown on Sunday.
But Duncan will have to overcome a prestigious field, with US golden girl Lexi Thompson, Sanna Nuutinen and Madelene Salstrom also tied at seven-under.
Thompson, an 11-time LPGA tour winner, is plotting her way around the famous links course with the help of car salesman and part-time Paul Drummond this week.
“I'm very grateful to have him out there helping me out, keeping me nice, loose and just laughing the whole time. We've had a great time this whole week,” the 26-year-old said.
“He's been giving me great lines and bounces around the green which I would never play for.”
World number one Nelly Korda and former champion Georgia Hall are also both still in the mix, three back after mixed fortunes on Saturday.
All eyes have been Olympic gold medallist Korda, who is hoping to become the first American to win two majors in a single year since Juli Inkster in 1999.
And she improved on her second round performance with a tidy two-under-par 70 in tougher afternoon conditions.
Meanwhile, overnight leader Hall struggled in the rain as she shot an underwhelming 73.
Winner at Royal Lytham and St Annes three years ago, Hall will have to go low on Sunday to be in with a chance of claiming her second Women’s Open title.