When one swing laid down the challenge, the next answered right back.
Perrine Delacour and Samantha Troyanovich pushed each other around the course in the day’s best group, tying for the round’s best score Saturday. Each pushed one another up the leaderboard going into Sunday’s final round at the Symetra Tour’s Zimmer Biomet Championship at Grand National.
Delacour and Troyanovich both fired a round of 4-under 68, matching two other golfers for the day’s low mark in the tournament’s pivotal third round.
Delacour now sits tied for fourth at 6-under for the tournament, with Troyanovich in a tie for sixth at 5-under.
“We had a good fight together, so that was fun,” Delacour said. The group’s third member, Amy Boulden, shot a 1-over 72 and sits in a tie for 14th.
Scores were up across the field on Saturday. The tournament leader, Nuria Iturrios, set the stage with a first-round 8-under 64 on Thursday and still holds the lead at 11-under after three rounds. The pace was set by a 5-under 67 on Friday. Scores climbed Saturday, but not by much for Delacour and Troyanovich who pushed their way into contention.
Fatima Fernandez Cano hit another 68 Saturday, and is tied with Troyanovich in sixth. Ji Eun Baik, now tied for 17th, carded the day’s only other 68.
Delacour and Troyanovich both fired three birdies each on the back nine to close Saturday’s round strong.
“I stayed patient throughout the round,” Troyanovich said. “We had a really fun group. Perrine and Amy were great. We were just hanging out, having a good time, hitting pretty good golf shots.
“Like I said, patience was key. I hit some big shots going down the stretch and made a few putts, which was nice.”
Troyanovich birdied No. 5, No. 14, No. 15 and No. 17, steady at par the rest of the way. Delacour bogeyed No. 1 before getting it back, dropping birdies on No. 4 and No. 5 before hitting birdies on No. 11, No. 12 and No. 14 on the back nine.
“I’m pretty confident,” Delacour said, saying she felt good hitting the day’s low score Saturday and adding the strong pairing helped her. “I’m just going to keep doing what I do the best and see what happens from there.”
Sunday, Delacour and Troyanovich are paired with Bailey Tardy — the Georgia alum tied for fourth with Delacour. They’ll play in front of the leaders, Iturrios at 11-under, Maddie Szeryk at 9-under and Robynne Ree at 7-under.
Fernandez Cano was 5-under going onto No. 18, before missing the fairway on the final hole and having to settle for bogey to card that 68 and move into a tie for sixth at 5-under with Troyanovich, Kyung Kim and Min Seo Kwak.
“Just keep it simple,” Delacour said of her approach entering Sunday. “Don’t put too much pressure on myself. Just try my best.
“At some point, I can’t control any other players playing good. I’m just trying my best and see what happens from there.”
For players like her and Troyanovich, who hit the clubhouse as hot as anyone after strong back nines on Saturday, their focus is on carrying that on into the final round.
“I think we all enjoyed each other’s company and we were all playing pretty solid, which is nice,” Troyanovich said. “Everyone kind of hits the same distance and we had a pretty good group rhythm going, which is always really pleasant.
“It definitely doesn’t hurt,” she said of finishing Saturday strong. “It’s always nice to kind of start hitting good shots and seeing putts go in and knowing that you’re doing the right thing.”
Auburn alum T-14
Marta Sanz Barrio is just going to forget it.
One hole wrecked her Saturday.
But if anyone on the course is capable of making a strong surge and shooting Sunday’s low score, it would have to be the player who knows it better than anyone else in the field.
Sanz Barrio, the former Auburn University golfer, practiced plenty at Grand National during her career on the Plains.
Saturday, a 4-over quadruple bogey on No. 15 ruined her third round, giving her a 2-over 74 on Day 3, and putting her into a tie for 14th at 2-under for the tournament.
But she’s confident she can erase that memory and come back out for a strong showing in the final round Sunday.
“I played really well,” Sanz Barrio said after finishing up on No. 18. “I was coming into 15 2-under, giving myself a lot of chances. A lot of putts just slipped away on the front nine but I was playing really well.
“Then I had a really hard hole, hitting the water on one and then chunked it from the drop-in zone. It’s really frustrating. I played really, really well, but it’s just that hole. I need to forget about it and just come out tomorrow and try to play my best.”
Her best was already the best in the field on Friday. In the second round, her 5-under 67 was tied for the day’s lowest score. No one shot better than her that day.
She’s hoping for a repeat performance on Sunday — this time with her sister in her corner.
Older sister Patricia Sanz Barrio, another former Auburn golfer, walked the course with her as her caddie on Saturday after she missed the tournament’s two-day cut after the second round.
Patricia played golf at Auburn from 2008-12. Marta played at Auburn from 2010-13.
Marta said the two do that often: one taking over as caddie for the other if she misses the cut. Sunday, the two of them, who both know the course in Opelika well, will have their chance to put their heads together and close out Sunday with a strong round for Marta.
“I know I’m able to score on this course, and hopefully I can do it tomorrow,” Marta said.