Chen, Boulden share Tenerife lead

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Connie Chen and Amy Boulden emerged from a crowded leader board to share the lead on nine under par after the third round of the Tenerife Open de Espana Femenino.

The pair fired matching rounds of three-under-par 69 in hot conditions at Golf Costa Adeje to end the day a stroke ahead of Celine Herbin from France, who fired a sizzling 65.

There were eight players who either led outright or held a share of the lead over the course of moving day and they included Solheim Cup player Carlota Ciganda, rookie Nicole Broch Larsen and two-time champion Kylie Walker, who ended the day on seven under par in a share of fourth place.

Charley Hull tied for the lead after three birdies in her first seven holes but dropped back to six under with a 71. Midway leader Maria Balikoeva had a 77 and moved back into a tie for 14th.

Chen set the clubhouse target when she chipped in from just behind the 18th green for eagle, before Boulden chipped and putted for birdie on the same hole. Both players are looking for their first wins on the Ladies European Tour and Boulden is also targeting the rookie of the year trophy.

After a third straight round of 69, Boulden, 21, from Llandudno with two top five places on the LET this summer, commented: “I played solid again. I got off to a rocky start but managed to hole a few testers on the first few holes to keep me in there. I’m hoping for the same tomorrow or a bit lower.

“On the back nine I made three birdies in a row which gave a lot of momentum. There was a little bit of wind out there but the heat was making it very warm and sweaty. I’ve been putting myself into contention in most of the tournaments, or the last few, so just hoping the win is around the corner.”

Chen, whose best finish in four years on tour was a tie for seventh in this year’s Sberbank Golf Masters in the Czech Republic, arrived in Tenerife a week early to practice on the greens and the 21-year-old from Pretoria was particularly pleased with her putting.

The Guangzhou, China, based player said: “I’ve been working really hard. I got here a week earlier and did a lot of putting on the greens here so I had a week of practice. Hopefully my swing will be better tomorrow and a few more putts will drop.”

The round of the day by Celine Herbin – including a bogey on the first hole and eight birdies – matched first round leader Trish Johnson’s day one score.

“It was a nice day for me. For the first two rounds I had a bad flight and a lot of wind on both days. It was nice to finally play this course with no wind. I was feeling confident because I worked well on my swing yesterday afternoon. I fixed some little problems and I arrived with a lot of confidence,” said Herbin.

With a 66, Denmark’s Broch Larsen also came flying through the field.

She said: “I’m really happy about my round today. I played really solid. I had a good start, even though I had a bogey on the fourth, because my iron kicked on the grass and touched the ball, so I had four shots but one penalty stroke. I just kept going today and it was fine. I was trying to look away from the scoreboards but I did see my name on there at the end.”

Walker had another steady round and is in contention for her third title this season after play-off wins in Holland and Germany.

She said: “I played pretty good for the most part and dropped a few silly shots but all in all one under, it’s alright. I hit it pretty close on eight and was trying to make eagle but ended up with a tap-in birdie. It was good though, the course is playing really well and I’m enjoying it.

“I know my game is good enough to shoot a low round so I’m hoping for a good score. It is nice being in contention so I’ll enjoy it.”

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