NEWS
08/27/2011 04:43 EDT | Updated 10/27/2011 05:12 EDT

Leblanc rises, Richdale falls in third round of Canadian Women's Open

MIRABEL, Que. - Maude-Aimee Leblanc put on a show for her home fans in the third round of the US$2.25 million CN Canadian Women's Open on Saturday.

The 22-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que., fired a 5-under 67 on Saturday to take over top spot among the six Canadians who made the cut at the LPGA Tour event at Hillsadale Golf Club.

Her three-round total of 8 under put her in position to make a charge for the lead in the final round on Sunday, when the sunny, windless conditions of the first three rounds are expected to change drastically to wet, stormy weather.

Leblanc said she felt more relaxed than in the second round on Friday when she was under the gun to make the cut, which she managed by two strokes.

"It was a lot less pressure for sure," said Leblanc. "I think that helped a lot to stay calm out there.

"I struggled a bit with my drives today but I made good par saves, no bogeys. So I can't really complain about my game. I made a lot of long putts too. It was just a great day overall."

Leblanc had a gallery of about 200 following her and a larger throng waiting on the 18th, where a roar went up as she sank a 30-foot birdie putt.

It is a first tournament as a pro in Quebec for the former Purdue University star who is in the qualifying process to try to get her PGA Tour card.

"It was a nice experience to play for the fans here,"' she added. "It makes the tournament special. I'm glad I was able to play well."

Leblanc said she hit only one fairway on the back nine, but was able to recover with her irons and make the putts. She birdied the second, fifth, seventh, 12th and 18th holes.

There is a chance that the remnants of Hurricane Irene will wipe out the final round, in which case the third round leader will be declared champion. That would erase any chance to catch the leaders.

"That would be a bummer, but I really doubt it's going to happen," she said. "It would be disappointing because I have good momentum now."

Leblanc played at two previous Canadian Opens as an amateur, missing the cut each time.

As Leblanc rose up the leaderboard, Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C. had a mighty fall.

Alone in third place overall after an opening round 66, one shot off the lead, Richdale had seven bogeys and a double bogey en route to an 81. That dropped her to a tie for 76th and last place at 4-over 220.

Jessica Shepley of Oakville, Ont., had a second straight 70 to sit 3 under for the tournament, tied with Lisa Meldrum of Montreal, who shot 73.

Lorie Kane of Charlottetown took a step back with a 74 and is at even par 216.

Jisoo Keel, a 16-year-old amateur from Coquitlam, B.C., shot 75 and is 2 over for the tournament.