World number one Nelly Korda bouncing back from her lone bogey of the day at the fifth with birdies at the seventh and ninth to make the turn three-under for the day. — Reuters pic
MIAMI, Jan 22 ― World number one Nelly Korda fired seven birdies in a six-under par 66 yesterday to take a one-shot lead in the US LPGA Tournament of Champions in Orlando, Florida.
After a roller coaster 68 on Thursday that left her one off the pace, Korda looked dialled in, bouncing back from her lone bogey of the day at the fifth with birdies at the seventh and ninth to make the turn three-under for the day.
The American, who won her first major title last year in the KPMG Women’s PGA, picked up three more strokes coming in, moving atop the leaderboard with a 17-foot birdie putt at 18 that put her at 10-under par 134 after two rounds at Lake Nona Golf and Country Club.
“I missed probably a 10-footer for birdie on 17, which I was disappointed with, but it was nice to roll that one in on 18 going into the weekend,” Korda said.
She was one stroke in front of 2017 Women’s PGA champion Danielle Kang and first-round leader Gaby Lopez of Mexico.
Kang holed out for eagle at the seventh, her seven-iron from 155 yards finding the cup to kickstart her round.
She added birdies at the 11th, 13th and 15th in a five-under par 67 for 13.
“I was having a little bit of a slow start,” said Kang, who said she gave herself a string of good birdie looks on the front nine, but couldn’t get the putts to drop.
“I wanted to hit it really close on seven,” she said When she saw the ball tracking toward the pin she said she wanted it to go close so she wouldn’t have much of a putt.
“Then it went in ― it was super-cool,” Kang said.
Lopez, a two-time LPGA winner ranked 53rd in the world, was going strong with two birdies and an eagle at the ninth in her outward run.
But another birdie at the 11th was followed by bogeys at the par-five 15th and the par-three 17th before she drained a birdie putt at the 18th to cap a 68 that gave her a share of second heading into the weekend.
Defending champion Jessica Korda was a further stroke back after five birdies in a five-under par 67.
France’s Celine Boutier and Canada’s Brooke Henderson shared fifth on 137.
The season-opening event features 29 LPGA tournament winners from the past three seasons, competing alongside 50 celebrities.
Nelly Korda said she found the pro-am format refreshing.
“It’s kind of like the best of both worlds,” she said. “Because you can keep it light and you can chat with them, but you also have to concentrate and execute the shots.”
Although she saw improvement from a first round in which she “was kind of spraying it everywhere,” Korda said she could “tighten up a few loose ends” over the weekend.
“I had a couple of loose shots still today, but they weren’t bad enough where I missed the green,” she said. ― AFP