Porter (left) and Bennett before their third round today – Photo R&A Paul Lakatos via Getty Images

Australians Kelsey Bennet and Cassie Porter have kept the chances of a first Australian victory at the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship alive, the pair four and five shots respectively behind the leader Natthakritta Vongtaveelap of Thailand ahead of tomorrow’s fourth and final round in Abu Dhabi.

NSW’s, Bennett, added a third round of 69 at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club and at one stage briefly joined the lead at 11 under when she recorded the third of three consecutive birdies at the 8th before her playing partners birdied the same hole to move one ahead.

Bennett was unable to secure another birdie through a frustrating closing 10 holes but at 11 under she is just four back and will once again play in the final group tomorrow in the hope that she can contend for a title which is not only one of female amateur golf’s finest but one that brings significant benefits.

The winner tomorrow earns the right to play the Amundi Evian Championship in France, the AIG Women’s Open Championship at Muirfield, the Hana Financial Group Championship on the Korean LPGA Tour and the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship next April.

“I had a lot of opportunities and just could not get them to drop today but hopefully tomorrow will be the day,” said Bennett.

“I just holed those three birdies with some decent putting, which was good. I had three in a row, and then that was it. At least par trends aren’t too bad.

“I’m feeling pretty good. I think I’d rather be a couple back heading into the last round rather than being in front. So I am looking forward to it.”

Porter, from the Sunshine Coast, only returned to tournament golf earlier this year after a lengthy injury break from the game that had been initially diagnosed as a stress fracture of the back.

“So probably about two years ago now, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my lower back, and they treated it as a stress fracture for probably 12 months,” said Porter when asked about the injury.”Then we found out it wasn’t.

“I still have the stress fracture, but we found out that wasn’t causing the pain. It was just tight glutes and hammies. I’ve got a good physio on board, so she’s helping me out, which is really nice. I’m just grateful to be here playing pain free.”

Porter was frustrated by a putter that refused to convert many of the opportunities she was creating for herself during her round of 68 today but she has kept in touch and heads into tomorrow’s final round five shots behind the leader but only two shots out of second place currently held by Japan’s Mizuki Hashimoto.

“As I said yesterday, there are a lot of opportunities out there that I just didn’t capitalize on, but at the end of the day, it’s 4-under. I can’t really be disappointed,” added Porter.



The 19 year old Natthakritta Vongtaveelap of Thailand leads by three. Photo R&A Paul Lakatos via Getty