Matthew leads Open by three
Closest challenger is American Kim
Last Updated: 01/08/09 5:26pm
Matthew: early bogeys
Scotland's Catriona Matthew will take a three-shot lead into the final round of the Rico Women's British Open after battling to a third round 71 at Royal Lytham.
Matthew, just three weeks away from her 40th birthday and only 10 weeks on from giving birth to her second daughter, is bidding to become the first Scot to win the title and the first prize of just over £197,000.
Her closest challenger is American Christina Kim.
Matthew resumed on Saturday tied for top spot with Italian Giulia Sergas and bogeyed the second and third.
It was the third round that did for her at St Andrews two years ago - an 80 after she was second at halfway - but this time she came back with birdies at the fifth, 10th and 13th to move clear.
After that it was a matter of avoiding disasters and she did that expertly.
Matthew also led with a round to go at Sunningdale in 2001, but that was only by one and she finished third.
"It's great to be in the lead, but there's still a lot of work to do," said Matthew. "I managed to stay patient today and tried to stay relaxed, although it was tough with the pressure.
"The key here is to stay out of the bunkers and I pretty well managed to do that. My husband (Graeme) is my caddie and he also tries to keep me focussed. Tomorrow, I'll have to hang in and just try and keep it going."
Defending champion Jiyai Shin had a best-of-the-day 68 to move from 17th to joint third with Japan's Ai Miyazato, winner of last week's Evian Masters.
At four behind they certainly cannot be counted out of it. But with Sergas taking 78, Matthew appears to be Europe's only realistic hope of claiming the championship in Solheim Cup year.