The fifth running of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters has, in all probability, boiled down to a four-way tussle this afternoon for the top prize of €75,000.
Tinning and Reid one stroke clear in Dubai
DUBAI // The fifth running of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters has, in all probability, boiled down to a four-way tussle this afternoon for the top prize of €75,000 (Dh88,000).
Denmark's Iben Tinning, playing in her final professional tournament, shares the lead with England's Melissa Reid after both players improved their score to eight-under par through 54 holes.
They have a one-shot advantage over Sweden's Anna Nordqvist, who missed short putts on the last two holes yesterday, and Lydia Hall of Wales, the second-round leader who could manage only a par 72 to remain seven under.
It will require something remarkable from a chasing pack, led by the popular American Christina Kim and Louise Stahle of Sweden, to prevent victory going to one of those four pace-makers.
Kim and Stahle are joint fifth, five strokes behind the leaders after a testing day which ended with only 16 players under par.
Lee-Anne Pace, who will finish the tournament as the first South African to be the Ladies European Tour's top money winner, was one of many who struggled to cope with the daunting Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club.
A disappointing round of 74 could not remove her beaming smile, though, because England's Laura Davies, the only player who could have overtaken her in the concluding Order of Merit event, has also failed to make an impact and is 11 shots off the pace in her mission to secure a top-two finish.
Other crowd favourites to fall below expectations were the American trio of Michelle Wie, Carling Coffing and Alexis Thompson, and the Russian Maria Verchenova.
Coffing was in contention at the start of yesterday's round but slumped to a three-over-par 75 to be level for the tournament alongside Wie and three ahead of Thompson, the 15-year-old prodigy who could not improve on her overnight position.
Verchenova went out with Tinning in the penultimate two-ball but performed 10 strokes worse than her playing partner to plummet down the leaderboard from joint-fourth into a share of 25th place.
Tinning, a stalwart of four Solheim Cups, will try to end her distinguished career with a victory today. The Dane has not won a tournament since 2005 when she finished on top of her tour's Order of Merit and has been troubled by persistent hip pain this season.
"I do believe in fairy tales," she said. "And it would be great if I could go out with a win here, especially having gone so long without a victory. It's about time I claimed another title. I am definitely playing some of the best golf that I can play at the moment."
Reid, who went one stroke better than Tinning's 69 to earn her share of the lead, is confident of wrecking the script.
"This is the best score I've ever had on this course," she said. "I've put myself in a good position and another 68 would be really nice."
Nordqvist remained upbeat despite her late lapses with the putter and dissatisfaction with her iron play.
"I fought hard out there and I'm still only one shot back," she said. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow. It's always nice to come from behind."
Hall, who was a couple of inches shy with a 70-foot putt on the last that would have taken her into a three-way tie for the lead, said she was disappointed with her display but pleased with the way she kept her game together down the home stretch.
"I struggled on the front nine and found it hard to cope with the pace," she said as she seeks not only her first professional title but a first top-five finish of her three-year European Tour career.
"There are huge names on the leaderboard. I just have to concentrate on what I'm doing and see what happens."
Player Score Par
Iben Tinning 208 -8
Melissa Reid 208 -8
Lydia Hall 209 -7
Anna Nordqvist 209 -7
Louise Stahle 213 -3
Christina Kim 213 -3
Rebecca Flood 214 -2
Stefanie Michl 214 -2
Florentyna Parker 214 -2
Maria Hernandez 214 -2
M’anne Skarpnord 214 -2