Dubai prodigy Chiara Noja shoots bogey-free 68 at Saudi Ladies International
15-year-old sits in a share of 34th after the third round at Royal Greens
What a day it’s been for Dubai-based teenager Chiara Noja.
After a sleepless night knowing she needed a par at her final hole to make the final 36 holes, Noja duly delivered before posting a superb bogey-free 68 in the third round to charge up the leaderboard at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by Public Investment Fund.
Four birdies took the youngster to one under par, and a share of 34th at King Abdullah Economic City. An energentic fist pump matched with an embrace with her father, who is her caddie, on the last showed Noja's relief at delivering on the biggest stage.
“Going bogey-free today was very nice, but it was definitely a grind,” said Noja, who is nursing a shoulder injury. “I never 100 percent felt comfortable out there even though I was playing great, but I didn’t necessarily feel great. I was trying to do my best and get back to level par. I’ve beaten that, so I’m really happy.
“I think I’ll sleep better tonight as I don’t have to worry about finishing my round, which is nice! I’m really looking forward to getting back out there tomorrow.”
Former World No.1 Lydia Ko tops the leaderboard heading into the final after a spellbinding 63, which included ten birdies in 14 holes.
Similar to Noja, the Kiwi turned professional at a young age before going on to become one of the world’s greatest players, so Noja was all ears when she got the chance to talk to her idol in the players lounge.
“I had a really long conversation with Lydia yesterday,” she said. “We actually talked about my injury, I was just asking her some advice in general. She’s incredible, I actually told her that I couldn’t believe she was talking to me! She’s an icon – talking to her was a wow moment.”