DUBAI — Firing on all cylinders, England’s Felicity Johnson turned in a red-hot performance on ‘Pink Friday’ to hit the front going into the final round of the Omega Dubai Ladies Masters at Emirates Golf Club.
The 29-year-old from Birmingham carded a flawless eight-under 64, just one shy of the course record set by Dewi Claire Schreefel in 2012, to move to seven-under for the tournament, two clear of overnight leader Florentyna Parker, who settled for a level-par 72.
India’s Aditi Ashok, who is chasing a third Ladies European Tour title on the trot, returned back-to-back 70s to join Emily Kristine Pedersen for a share of third on four under as defending champion Shanshan Feng of China occupied tied 13th five shots off the pace.
On a day when everyone wore pink to help raise awareness of breast cancer and support the Al Jalila Foundation and Brest Friends, Johnson set the tone for a superb round, drilling her six iron to within five feet for a birdie at the very first hole and kept the momentum going all the way through.
“It was a great day for golf in the morning. I hit a lot of really close iron shots. I had probably seven birdie putts to within four feet, so that always makes the game a little bit easier,” said Johnson, a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour.
“All the ones I hit close, I converted, so 24 putts. When you hit a lot of good iron shots, you're going to have a good score. It’s only a three-round event, so you try and put yourself in a good position heading into the final day. I think I did that pretty well.”
Overnight leader Parker was also quite pleased with her efforts. “It was really windy out there, but I managed to keep it going. I birdied the 17th, which, I think, was very important to make sure I get into the last group.
“I've got nothing to lose. I've had a great season and the only thing that's missing is me winning. So that's what I've got to go for,” said Parker, who is currently placed fourth on the Order of Merit standings.
In a rich vein of form, India’s Ashok felt she did not play as well as she thought she would, but overall sounded happy with her day’s efforts.
“I think I played pretty well, especially in the middle. I started from the back nine and did really well in the middle nine holes. I made only one birdie on par-5s. It's not great, but it was still two-under, so it's not bad.”
Pedersen, who had a 71, said: “I didn't get to play a practice round, so I'm really happy that I get some good shots and kept it going today, even though I had a little bit of a slow start, very happy.
“My putting and my ball-striking is pretty solid, and today I only hit 13 greens but my chipping was very good, so that kept me in the game.”
Elsewhere, Cheyenne Woods, who was tied for second overnight on four-under, moved into an eight-way tie for fifth after carding a 73. “Overall, I felt like I played well despite three three-putts on the back nine. Gave myself a lot of chances for birdie but my putter just wasn't as hot as it was in the first round.
“I'll work on a few things and hopefully get it back on Saturday. I do think it's going to be close tomorrow. I do think that anybody could win, and I think that I have a shot, so I'm happy with that.”
Meanwhile, Finland’s Minea Blomqvist made a hole in one at the 147-yard seventh using a 7-iron to win a fabulous OMEGA Seamaster Aqua Terra 150M ladies’ watch.
The cut was made at four-over-par 148 with 66 players making it to the final round that starts at 7.25am.
The Omega Dubai Ladies Masters is backed by OMEGA as the title sponsor and Emirates Global Aluminium PJSC as sponsor. The co-sponsors are: CNN, Drydocks World & Maritime World, Emirates NBD, Gulf News, JA Resorts & Hotels, Mercedes-Benz and wasl, while Dubai Duty Free, Neocasa Interiors and Motivate Publishing are the Patrons in golf in DUBAi's drive to showcase the emirate's vibrant golfing scene to a worldwide audience.