(DUBAI – Germany’s Anja Monke grabbed the third round lead at the Dubai Ladies Masters with a four-under-par 68 on the Majlis Course at Emirates Golf Club on Saturday.
Starting the day three shots behind halfway leader Annika Sorenstam, Monke carded three birdies over the front nine to make the turn in 32. She double bogeyed the par-three 11th hole but came back with three birdies on holes 13, 16 and 18 for a one-under-par inward total of 36.
The recent French Open champion finished on a nine-under-par total, two ahead of Italy’s Veronica Zorzi and Denmark’s Iben Tinning. Zorzi was the outright leader on nine-under after 14 holes but was given a two shot penalty after television commentators spotted that her ball20had moved at address before she putted on the 15th green. Sweden’s Sophie Gustafson shared fourth place with England’s Laura Davies on six-under-par.
Annika Sorenstam, who is playing in her farewell tournament, began the day with a one stroke lead but shot 75 to end the day four shots off the pace in a share of sixth.
Monke felt mixed emotions as she admitted that she would be sad to miss out on seeing Sorenstam’s final putt on the 18th green before she steps away from competitive play on Sunday.
“I have to say, it's really sad, because I play behind Annika, so I can't see her walking up the 18th hole,” said Monke. “That's really sad, actually, because that's her last round and it's her last tournament. I think it's so great that she played on the LET where she actually started many, many years ago. She is, of course, one of my idols and she is I think an idol or every gir l who touches a golf club. She's done many, many good things for women's golf and I think without her, we wouldn't be here today.”
She added that she would be happy to see the former World No 1 take the trophy. “I just want to play well, and if she plays better than I do, it's fine. I'll be happy for her,” she said. “If she posted a really low number, or I played really bad, or whatever, it's good. I will still feel happy for her. She's great, no question. I think every one of us will miss her.”
Sorenstam birdied the par-four second hole to extend her early lead in the third round but then bogeyed holes four, nine, 10 and 16. She said: “I just really don't know what to say other than nothing really happened today. I thought I hit some good shots and just couldn't really get anything going. I made a few mi stakes, and it just added up. A very disappointing day, I must say.
“I hit a few bad iron shots, some approach shots. I was pretty much in‑between clubs all day and the previous two days, I just had good yardages and today just couldn't find the range. You know, I didn't really feel like I did anything differently than yesterday. It's just a game and you just have to bounce back and not look back, just go forward.
“I really don't like to give excuses. I had a good night's rest and I was ready to go today. I was in a great position. I feel good about being here. No, there's nobody else than me to blame. I'm not giving up by any chance. I just walked off the course and disappointed, but I'll be ready tomorrow. I've done it before. I just have to come out tomorrow, be fresh and get off to a good start and get some good momentu m. I always say that it's never over until it's over.”
Sorenstam said she would try to keep her emotions in check during her last round after 15 years as a professional.
“It's nothing that I've practised before. As you all know, it will be what it is, and it's a day in a way that we all knew it was coming and now it's here within 24 hours. So, just embrace it and go with the emotions. I've had many rounds to just absorb the atmosphere. I'm here to play, I always have been and I'm not going to change that just because it's the last round. I have a chance to win a championship that I care very, very much about.
“Again, I love this golf course. Yesterday I played very well on the front and I know how to play the course. ; You just have to get it done, and today I didn't, but I know how to do it,” she added.
Becky Brewerton from Wales is paired with Sorenstam in her last round at 11:54 on Sunday. Meanwhile the final pairing will be Tinning and Monke, who tee off at 12:30 Dubai time.