Denmark's Iben Tinning moved into the outright lead on six under after back-to-back birdies at the seventh and eighth. The 25-year-old joint overnight leader on 68, has never won in four years as a professional but kept her nerve to move one clear of Sweden's Annika Sorenstam.
The Swede, who lost her world No 1 ranking to Australia's Karrie Webb in June, has twice finished second in this event, and she made her move with an outward nine of 33. At that stage, she was in share of the lead, but she missed a short putt to bogey the par-four 12th and slipped back to five under.
Laura Davies mounted a charge with two early birdies. But a double-bogey at the seventh and another bogey at the ninth saw her fall back to level par and six off the lead. Kirsty Taylor, the former Curtis Cup player, set the clubhouse target of two-under-par 144 following a fine 71, a round that started with back-to-back birdies.
Tinning chipped in from 40 yards for an eagle three at the last to open up a three-stroke lead. After a huge drive got her to within a short pitch of the green, the Dane dropped the ball just short of the flag with a sand wedge and it bounced twice before rolling in to give her a 69 and a nine-under total of 137. That put her three clear of Sorenstam, India's Smirti Mehra, Australia's Fiona Pike and Laura Navarro, of Spain. Sorenstam returned a 71, Mehra, Pike and Navarro 70s.
Several top Americans, notably Juli Inkster, are not here this year, but the US challenge was just behind the leaders with the US Tour rookie Laura Philo at five under after 10 holes. The defending champion Sherri Steinhauer lies five strokes off the lead at four under after she carded a 71, while Emilee Klein, winner here in 1996, was four under after 11.
Another American, Ashli Price-Bunch, moved up the leaderboard at three under with an ace at the 158-yard fifth, holing from the tee with a seven iron after carding birdies at the second and fourth.Reuse content