Thursday's golf: Jessica Korda shoots 65 to take 3-shot lead in LA Open

Associated Press

Los Angeles — Jessica Korda shot a 6-under 65 on Thursday in the HUGEL Air Premia LA Open to break the tournament 36-hole scoring record and increase her lead to three strokes.

Jessica Korda tees off at the 11th hole during the second round of the LPGA's Hugel-Air Premia LA Open golf tournament at Wilshire Country Club Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Los Angeles.

A day after matching the Wilshire Country Club tournament record with a 64, Korda opened her bogey-free morning round with birdies on three of her first four holes — holing a 15-footer to start on the par-4 10th. At 13-under 129, she broke the event mark of 8 under set by Moriya Jutanugarn in 2018 in the inaugural tournament.

“It’s going to sound crazy, but I actually lipped out a good amount out there today, so it actually could have been lower,” Korda said. “I don’t complain. I know I made a bogey yesterday, but I made up for it with some birdies. Just had a little bit of a harder time with some speed today.”

Top-ranked Jin Young Ko was second after a 65. Playing in the afternoon on the cool day, she lost a late stroke with a bogey on the par-4 17th.

Fellow South Korean star Sei Young Kim was 9 under. She closed her afternoon round with a bogey on the par-3 18th for a 66.

“Overall pretty solid round,” Kim said. “A little bit cold out there, low temperature, but still little breeze. Overall, really nice weather.”

Canadian Brooke Henderson (65) and 43-year-old Angela Stanford (66) were 8 under. So Yeon Ryu (67) was another shot back with Hannah Green (67) and Tiffany Chan (70). Second-ranked Inbee Park (68) was 6 under.

Korda won the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in January for her sixth LPGA Tour title, and sister Nelly Korda followed with a victory a month later in the Gainbridge LPGA in the second event of the year.

Jessica Korda has 13 straight under-par rounds. She hit 33 of 36 greens in the first two rounds.

“You’re just plotting your way around the golf course and trying to be smart where we keep it,” Jessica Korda said. “I got above the hole on a couple holes and they’re not easy putts, so you can definitely get out of position really easily out here, so we’ve been pretty I smart.”

She was 17 strokes ahead of playing partners Lydia Ko and Patty Tavatanakit.

Ko, the winner last week in Hawaii in the Lotte Championship at 28-under 260, followed an opening 78 with a 68 to miss the cut. Tavatanakit, making her first start since winning the ANA Inspiration for her first major title and first LPGA Tour victory, shot 75-71.

“I love being paired with Lydia,” Jessica Korda said. “I think I played a practice round with Patty last year. It was kind of just nice to get to know her. She’s super nice and has a very long career ahead of her. But I love my pairing. Anytime I get paired with Lydia, we always have such a great time. It was very easy going.”

Henderson birdied four of her last five holes.

“I just made a few more putts early, which was really exciting, and a couple long ones, which was really nice,” Henderson said. “I felt like I’ve just got a lot of energy, and a couple great breaks out there, and to finish really strong on the back nine I think was really clutch to climb up the leaderboard a little bit.”

Stanford closed with a bogey on the par-4 ninth.

“I didn’t feel great this morning,” Stanford said. “Sometimes, I think that makes me focus a little bit more, so it was really one shot at a time because at any moment I thought it could go south. Probably good that it kind of kept me focused today.”

Nelly Korda was 3 under after a 73. Seven under after birdieing the first two holes, she dropped five strokes in a four-hole span on the back nine. She bogeyed the par-4 11th, made a triple bogey on the par-5 13th and bogeyed the par-4 14th.

Michelle Wie West followed an opening 70 with a 77 to miss her third straight cut in her comeback.

Garnett-Stallings, Hovland-Ventura share Zurich Classic lead

Avondale, La. — Brice Garnett and Scott Stallings birdied eight of their last 11 holes, Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura birdied nine of their final 12, and both teams shot 10-under 62 in Zurich Classic to share the first-round lead Thursday.

“Kris decided to heat up his putter. That really helped,” Hovland said. “But I felt like we really played solid golf all 18 holes.”

Ventura made a 36-foot birdie putt from the fringe on 15 and a 19-footer on 16 for his seventh and final birdie of the day in the best-ball format played on the first and third rounds. Players will alternate shots in the second and final rounds.

Garnett hit approach shots within 7 feet on the first, second, fourth and fifth holes and made all four birdie putts after his team made the turn following a back-nine start. Stallings' birdie putt from nearly 18 feet on the eighth hole pulled his team into a tie atop the leaderboard.

“We had a tale of two nines,” said Stallings, who made half of his team's 10 birdies. “It was nice we didn’t birdie the same hole ever, and that’s what you have to do. We did a great job of that today.”

Hovland started the Norwegian tandem's run up the leaderboard by landing a shot from the bunker left of the green within 4 feet to birdie the par-5 seventh.

Ventura birdied Nos. 8, 9 and 11 — highlighted by his 9-foot putt on the par-3 ninth - before Hovland put a 194-yard approach on 12 within 2 feet to set up another birdie. Hovland also birdied the par-5 18th.

Seven teams shot 63, including two-time Zurich champion Billy Horschel and his teammate, Louisiana native and former LSU player Sam Burns.

Tony Finau and Cameron Champ, who had a back-nine start in the same group as Horschel and Burns, birdied the seventh and eighth holes to join the third-place teams.

Cameron Smith, who won the Zurich during its first year as a team event in 2017, made a 38-foot eagle putt on the par-5 second hole to help him and fellow Australian Marc Leishman post a 63. Smith also had six of his team’s seven birdies.

“I’ll probably buy dinner tonight after that exhibition he put on,” Leishman said. “He’s definitely owed that.”

Louis Oosthuizen nearly put his approach shot in the water on 18, but then chipped in from a steep embankment for birdie to pull himself and his teammate, fellow South African Charl Schwartzel, into a tie for third.

Also at 63 were the teams of Brendan Steele and Keegan Bradley; Sebastian Cappelen and Mark Hubbard; and Kyle Stanley and Kyoung-Hoon Lee.

Xander Schauffele and Patrick Cantlay — the only team with two players ranked in the world's top 10 — finished among a handful of teams at 64, including the tandem of Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler.

A cool breeze from the north that had numerous players wearing long sleeves — uncommon in late April in south Louisiana — also had a chilling effect on the anticipated risk-taking that can occur in the best-ball format. That was particularly the case on the 403-yard 13th hole, where players elected to aim for the fairway to the right of a massive cypress tree rather go straight at the green over a waste bunker to the left of the tree.

“This course isn’t really designed to play in this wind,” Horschel said, also noting he did appreciate temperatures in the 60s for much of the round. “It was nice to see Sam have a really good round because he’s been playing well ... and I just made sure I didn’t do anything stupid.”

Defending champions Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm shot 65.

Luiten shares the lead in Canary Islands after hole-in-one

Las Palmas, Spain — Joost Luiten hit a hole-in-one en route to a 7-under 63 Thursday that put him in a share of the lead after the first round of the Gran Canaria Open.

Luiten aced the par-3 15th hole in a round that also included seven birdies and two bogeys, leaving him tied with Joachim Hansen, Maximilian Kieffer and Robin Roussel.

“It was a perfect number for me to hit a wedge,” Luiten said. “It's just one of these bonus things that happen sometimes."

Hansen had a bogey-free round that included five birdies and an eagle. Kieffer offset a double bogey with nine birdies.

“Perfect start,” Hansen said. “It was just what I wanted to go out and do. Kept the ball in play, hit a lot of greens.”

A group of seven players were a shot behind at the Meloneras Golf Course in the Canary Islands.