13 Nov 2021 | Amateur golf |

Aussies hunting Thai star

by Golf Australia

Cassie Porter, Kelsey Bennett WAAP image
Cassie Porter (left) and Kelsey Bennett pose before the third round at Abu Dhabi today.

Australians Kelsey Bennett and Cassie Porter are in contention entering the final round of the Women's Amateur Asia Pacific championship in Abu Dhabi, but they have a runaway train to stop. Thailand's Natthakritta Vongtaveelap, 19, finished birdie-eagle in the third round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club in the United Arab Emirates to regain the iron-clad grip she had on the prestigious tournament. At 15 under par, Vongtaveelap is three shots ahead with a round to play having conceded a share of the lead to Japan's Mizuki Hashimoto at the 16th hole on Friday. She shot 67 today. Hashimoto is the nearest challenger at 12 under, while Mollymook's Bennett is outright third at 11 under par, four shots from the lead after her third-round 69. Deep into the third round the 21-year-old Bennett was within a shot of the lead but having made three consecutive birdies from the sixth hole to move into contention, she could only close with 10 straight pars. Bennett's birdie putt from three metres at the 18th hole was symbolic of her finish; it touched the edge of the hole but sat on the lip, refusing to drop. “It was frustrating," she said later. "I had a lot of opportunities and just could not get them to drop today. I had three birdies in a row and then that was it. At least par trends aren't too bad. Hopefully, tomorrow will be the day.” Meanwhile Queensland's Porter also played some brilliant golf in the third round, shooting a four-under par 68 to sit tied-fourth at 10 under par, five shots from the lead. Like Bennett she has not made much with the putter this week, but her ball-striking was supreme and when she rolled a birdie putt in at the 16th, she celebrated with arms in the air as though a drought had broken. "If the putter is hot tomorrow and I'm playing like I did today, hopefully it's a good round," said the 19-year-old from Peregian on the Sunshine Coast. "But at the end of the day, it's all good." The winner of this tournament gets a start in next year's AIG Women's Open and the Evian Championship, both professional majors, as well as a big tournament in South Korea and the Augusta Women's Invitational. Bennett has shot 69-67-69, is in the last group again in the final round, and she said she liked her position. "I'm feeling pretty good. I think I'd rather be a couple back heading into the last round rather than being in front. So I am looking forward to it." Live coverage of the final round is on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports today.

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