Three lead Women’s Dixie Amateur as the defending champ lurks

Emily Zhu, a member of the Canadian National Junior Squad, had the round of the day — a 6-under 66 — to take a share of the lead at the Women’s Dixie Amateur with one round to go at Woodlands Country Club in Tamarac, Fla.
Despite the wind and wet conditions, Zhu reeled off six birdies in a seven-hole stretch to get to 5 under par through 54 holes.

She is joined at that number by Mychael O’Berry (Hoover, Ala.), a junior at Auburn University who put together an impressive bogey-free round of 68 on Thursday.

The overnight leader, 16-year-old Katherine Schuster of Kill Devil Hills, N.C., got it to 8 under par for the tournament after three straight birdies in the middle of her round, but lost three shots coming in to fall back to 5 under and a three-way tie with Zhu and O’Berry.

Schuster, who was the 2018 Drive, Chip and Putt champion at Augusta National before winning her state high school and junior championships this year, will play with Zhu and O’Berry in the final threesome for Friday’s final round.

One group ahead of them will be the defending champion, Alexa Pano (Lake Worth, Fla.), who shot a 68 to get to 4 under, just one shot back of the leaders.

Last year Pano started the final round one shot off the lead and took the title with a final-round 69. But there was only one player for her to chase then; this time it’ll be three.

Three players start the final round at 2 under par, three shots back — Romy Meekers of The Netherlands, 13-year-old Chloe Kovelesky (Boca Raton, Fla.) and 14-year-old Jordan Fischer, a German native living in N. Ft. Myers, Fla.

The Women’s Dixie takes on special importance because of its spot on the calendar, as the last major women’s amateur event before the Augusta National Women’s Amateur (ANWA) determines which players to invite based on world golf ranking.