Argentina´s Ela Anacona surged four strokes clear after a brilliant third-round display in the Women´s Amateur Latin America championship presented by The R&A and the ANNIKA Foundation at Pilar Golf.
Trailing by three strokes overnight to experienced compatriot Maria Olivero, the 23-year-old handled the windiest conditions of the week to post an excellent five-under-par 67 for a 12-under total of 204 going into tomorrow´s final round.
With an earlier two-tee start given a later weather threat at the venue north of Buenos Aires, Anacona had pulled level with Olivero after only three holes following a double bogey from the 49-year-old on the par-5 2nd and Anacona´s birdie at the 3rd.
The University of Arkansas fifth year student, making her third appearance in the championship after two previous top-15 finishes, continued to thrive and made four birdies in seven holes from the 8th.
Anacona´s birdie at the par-4 9th highlighted her quality, striking a glorious 8-iron approach from among trees on the right to six feet, before a tee shot to five feet at the par-3 17th set up another birdie. Her only bogey came at the last, but Anacona still set a new championship 54-hole record.
“In the conditions I had to stay patient and calm,” said Anacona. “My ball striking was the best part of my game, not only today but the two previous as well. I think I hit 17 greens and the only one I missed was on the 18th. I hit it close too so that helped a lot.
“Maria is a role model for me. She is a great player but she is an even better person and I love her so much. It was so nice to play with her because we have so much in common and we talked throughout the round. It helps me be very calm too.”
Olivero, the 11-time Argentine Women´s Stroke Play champion, stayed in contention after a birdie at the short 6th before bogeying the par-5 13th as she signed for a 74 and an eight-under total of 208.
She said, “The wind was very strong so it was much more difficult than yesterday. The course is playing harder and the greens are faster. I didn´t make the putts but it was still a good round.
“I´m going to rest, stretch and maybe do some putting. To have a chance to win tomorrow I think I need less than 68 because Ela is playing really well.”
Venezuela´s Vanessa Gilly fought to stay in touch with the two Argentinians at the top of the leaderboard, but had an up-and-down day in her 75 for three-under 213.
“It was a tough day,” admitted Gilly. “I wasn´t executing as I wanted to and it just made it tough in the wind and with the pins. I´m still proud that I´ve put myself in a good position and tomorrow is another day when I will try to go as low as I can.”
A group of three players are next best-placed on one-under – Mexico´s Sofia Clarisa Temelo Escalera, Daniela Ballesteros from Peru and Colombia´s Sofia Torres. Ballesteros, who finished third last year, produced the round of the day after a superb six-under 66 in the tricky conditions, which featured seven birdies and an eagle at the par-5 7th.
Ballesteros said, “It was really tough out there today. It was really windy, especially on the front nine. It was very key to stay patient, be focused on every shot and don´t think ahead. I need to stay patient again tomorrow and keep my course management the same.
“With the championship going to Lima Golf Club next year, it´s such an honour not only for me but all the Peruvians playing. I think it´s going to be a great tournament, the course is great and I´m very excited.”
A field of 59 talented players representing 13 countries are competing in the Women´s Amateur Latin America championship, being staged at Pilar Golf for the third time.
The champion can look forward to playing in three major championships next year – the AIG Women´s Open, The Chevron Championship and The Amundi Evian Championship. She will also compete in The Women´s Amateur Championship and The Hilton Grand Vacations ANNIKA Invitational presented by Rolex in 2024.
The Women´s Amateur Latin America championship presented by The R&A and the ANNIKA Foundation follows the successful introduction of the Women´s Amateur Asia-Pacific championship by The R&A in 2018. Its aim is to strengthen the pathway to the very highest levels of golf by providing a platform for the region´s best women´s amateur golfers to compete against each other.