Scottish amateur Louise Duncan owned up to her “surreal” feelings after climbing into contention at the AIG Women’s Open to raise hopes of a remarkable Carnoustie triumph.
Duncan, the women’s amateur champion, signed for a third-round 68 and is only two shots back from leaders Anna Nordqvist and Nanna Koerstz Madsen heading into the final day.
“It was probably the most fun I’ve had all week,” said Duncan, 21, who sank a 30-foot eagle putt at the par-five 14th and elicited huge cheers again on the 18th green by draining her birdie attempt.
“To get the putter rolling and hole some nice putts, I couldn’t have asked for more.
“I was shaking on the putt on the 18th, I felt on 17 my putt should have gone in so I thought I deserved a putt. I was extremely happy to get it in.
“It’s a bit surreal really, to be playing with the best players in the world and some really big names. It’s all a bit mad.
“I don’t really know how I managed to keep (my nerves) under control. I just tried to find the clubface really.”
Nordqvist felt her 65 was down to her “great attitude” around the tough Angus links and the best score of the week gave her a share of the third-round lead with fellow Scandinavian Koerstz Madsen.
“I felt like I hit the ball really, really well last week in the hard wind at Dumbarnie in the Scottish Open,” said Nordqvist, who is seeking a third major title 12 years after her first.
“So it’s started to feel like it’s come together. I feel like the last few weeks have been solid.
“I just haven’t made as many putts or scored as well as I played.
“My caddie just told me to keep patient. In links golf you test your patience and I feel like I’ve had a great attitude this week.
“You just never know when your hard work is going to pay off.
“You’ve got to keep plugging along and putting yourself in positions.”
After successive scores of 71 on Thursday and Friday, Nordqvist fired seven birdies – including three in the last five holes – to climb 22 places to the top of the leaderboard.
Denmark’s Koerstz Madsen joined Nordqvist on nine-under with a third-round 68, which included an eagle at the 12th.
The pair are one shot clear of Lizette Salas and two ahead of a four-strong bunch – Duncan, Lexi Thompson, Madelene Sagstrom and Sanna Nuutinen.
American Thompson said after her round of 70: “I’ve been trying to focus on myself, my game and my emotions and really that’s all I can control.
“Whatever happens, happens, with the course. You just have to stay in the moment and focus on one shot at a time.”
England’s Georgia Hall, the 2018 champion, had held a share of the overnight lead with American Mina Harigae.
But Hall tumbled down the leaderboard with a one-over par 72 and is tied for eighth, three shots adrift of Nordqvist and Koerstz Madsen.