Anne-Catherine Tanguay (Quebec, Canada) and Daniela Darquea (Quito, Ecuador) made 13 total birdies while playing in the same group on Saturday and both moved into a share of the lead at 7-under, 137. Later in the day, Briana Mao (Folsom, Calif.) posted a 4-under, 68 to get to 7-under. Tanguay, who has six career top 10’s including a T10 to open the year at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic, posted a 4-under, 68 while Darquea, a rookie playing in just her second career event, turned in a 5-under, 67.
There are five players just one off the lead including Burbank native Emily Tubert. There are 11 players within three shots of the leaders.
The cut was made at 2-over, 142 and 72 players will play on Sunday. The first group will tee at 7:30 a.m. while the final group of Darquea and Mao will tee at 1:10 p.m.
“I just really got my putting going today, I made a bunch of 10 and 12 footers,” said Tanguay, who attempted 29 putts. “I made some up-and-downs on the par 5’s, which was key so overall it was a solid round.”
Tanguay decided this past offseason to stay in Florida to prepare for the season and said it was her best offseason to date. She only took about a week off.
“Two weeks before the season started, I was getting itchy to play because I’ve worked a lot on short game, chipping and putting and made some equipment changes that are helping my game,” said Tanguay. “I got some new wedges and I got some more distance off the tee with a new driver.”
Tanguay also said that she will have her boyfriend on the bag full-time this year and the duo works well on the course.
“It gets stressful sometimes on the road and it is good to have someone that helps me relax,” explained Tanguay. “He knows my game well, he knows me well and I think we make a great team on the course.”
The 26-year-old has made ten birdies against just one bogey this week. She did have a double bogey on Saturday on the 17th hole.
Tanguay’s low finish on Tour is a tie for fourth. She’ll go for her first win on Sunday.
“My mission this year is to be a little lighter on the golf course and have more fun,” said Tanguay. “It’s definitely nice to be in this position and I’ve been here before and I know how it feels and I think I can do better this time around.”
Darquea will try to become the first player from Ecuador to ever win on the Symetra Tour.
“I putted really well today,” said Darquea, who finished 17th in her pro debut at the Florida’s Natural Charity Classic. “On the 20-footers and in I made a lot of them, however on the really long putts I wasn’t as confident. I actually three-putted three times.”
Darquea, who took medalist honors at Stage I of LPGA Qualifying Tournament in 2016, turned professional after three seasons at Miami.
“I’m super excited how I am playing,” said Darquea. “I love to play golf and so far the start to my professional career has been fun. I’m really happy that I am playing well.”
When Darquea was little, her parents bought a membership to a golf club in Quito and she started playing when she was four years old.
“I just fell in love with the game and I couldn’t stop playing,” explained Darquea. “I went to college and then turned professional so golf has pretty much been my entire life.”
Darquea said that taking advantage of the par-5 holes will be critical on Sunday.
Mao, who trains in Palm Desert at La Quinta PGA West, made four birdies over her first seven holes and five total for a 68.
“I was hitting it really well and had a lot of good looks including birdie opportunities on each of the first six holes,” explained Mao. “I was feeling good going into the back nine, but just kind of lost my rhythm. I started swinging too fast and missed some fairways.”
Just like Tanguay and Darquea, Mao will also go for her first win.
“I’m going to go work on ball striking a little and then I’ll be fully prepared for Sunday,” said Mao, an All-ACC performer at the University of Virginia. “There are a bunch of good players towards the top so who knows what will happen.”