Anne Van Dam stretched her lead to five strokes on a day of low scoring at the Estrella Damm Mediterranean Ladies Open on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Dutchwoman added a six-under-par 65 to a pair of opening 66s to move to 20-under-par at Club de Golf Terramar in Sitges.
Caroline Hedwall, who shot a final round of 62 to win the Lacoste Ladies Open de France a fortnight ago, climbed into second with another nine-under-par round, which could easily have been a 59, had she not missed several birdie chances.
A 64 from the South African Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai propelled her into solo third position on 14-under. There was another 64 from the Korean amateur Selin Hyun who shares fourth place with Caroline Masson, Thidapa Suwannapura and Celine Herbin.
Spain’s own Carlota Ciganda (above) shot and eight-under-par 63 to move to 11-under, with Klara Spilkova and Aditi Ashok a stroke further back.
Van Dam, the longest hitter in women’s golf, who has averaged 298 yards off the tee so far this week, immediately demonstrated her power with a tap-in eagle on the 503-yard par-5 first hole on Saturday.
She explained: “I hit my drive a little bit left and I had 204 metres to the pin downwind. I hit my 4-iron thin, but it bounced up the green and was almost an albatross, so it was a nice tap-in to start the day.”
The 2016 Xiamen International Open champion then birdied the long sixth hole and the par-4 eighth to make the turn in four-under.
She made further gains on the par-3 10th and par-5 13th before finishing with five solid pars under pressure down the stretch.
“Those two par saves on 16 and 17 felt like two birdies coming in,” she said. “I was in a terrible position on 16 off the tee and did as best I could. That putt gives me a lot of confidence. It was a hard putt, downhill, right to left, about 12 feet and I rolled in straight in the middle. On 17, we were in between clubs and you cannot go long. It was a solid bunker shot and a good putt.”
Van Dam is full of confidence after working on her short game with her coach last week at the Evian Championship, where she tied for 37th and she added: “The way I’m playing, I’ve only dropped one shot so far this week and I feel like I’m playing well. You can never know what the other people are going to do but the scores are out there. A nine-under could happen tomorrow. All I need to do is bring my A game and we’ll see what happens.”