Hopes are running high in the Golf de l’Ocean clubhouse this afternoon. With all the cards signed, Frenchwoman Gwladys Nocera, who started the third round at the Lalla Meryem Cup with a share of the fourth slot on the board, has grabbed a two stroke lead over the competition after firing a six-under-par 65 in warm and sunny conditions in Adadir, Morocco on Saturday. Sophie Giquel-Bettan, who started the round sharing fourth place with Nocera, also had a good day. Giquel-Bettan will go into Sunday holding the second spot on the board and trailing Nocrea by two strokes. Defending champ and halfway leader Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, now at -7, will start Sunday in third place and fighting hard to get back the strokes that could put her on top.
Nocera made a relatively slow start with two birdies and one bogey on the front nine, but she picked up the pace with five birdies on the back nine to reach 11-under-par after three rounds.
Like the LPGA’s Paula Creamer, Nocera’s struggled with a befuddling winless streak. And like Creamer, Nocera played on and persevered. After five years without a victory, Nocera recorded two wins in 2013, first at the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open, and then she fought off a charge by the 2012 champion, Spain’s Carlota Ciganda to win the Suzhou Taihu Ladies Open in China by two strokes.
Nocera may be in the lead but she doesn’t have a secure hold on the top of the board at this point. Giquel-Bettan and Jutanugarn are right below her and need only a couple of birdies to pull even.
Below them, it’s still a tightly jammed leader board with four players only five shots from the lead on six-under-par: Thailand’s Titiya Plucksataporn, English duo Holly Clyburn and Charley Hull and French amateur Mathilda Cappeliez, who is aged 15 and two weeks older than Lydia Ko when she won the 2013 ISPS HANDA New Zealand Women’s Open to become the youngest ever winner on the LET.
Hull, who held a one stroke lead going into the final round of the Lalla Meryem Cup 12 months ago, is chasing her first title while Clyburn is targeting her second win on the LET after the Deloitte Ladies Open last year.
With a full field on the prowl for the win and many within reach of the top of the board, Sunday is filled with promise at the Golf de l’Ocean. Stay tuned!