Friday's golf: Jessica Korda keeps lead on day of big swings at LA Open

Associated Press
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Los Angeles — Jessica Korda rode out a series of big momentum shifts Friday at historic Wilshire Country Club to hold onto the lead in the HUGEL Air Premia LA Open.

Six strokes ahead after three holes, tied with top-ranked Jin Young Ko at the turn and two shots back with three to play, Korda birdied the final two holes to take a one-stroke lead into the final round.

“I’m just trying to be patient,” Korda said. “It’s tough. It’s tough to win out here. Still have 18 holes left and I just want to give myself an opportunity to win.”

Jessica Korda walks down the ninth fairway below the Hollywood sign during the third round of the LPGA's Hugel-Air Premia LA Open golf tournament at Wilshire Country Club Friday, April 23, 2021, in Los Angeles.

Korda shot a 3-under 68 to break the tournament 54-hole record at 16 under. She matched the event course record with a 64 on Wednesday and shot a bogey-free 65 on Thursday to break the 36-hole scoring record at 13 under.

“Honestly, it’s just hitting it in the right spots,” Korda said. “Pins were definitely tougher today than they have been the last two days, more tucked, so it was hard to be aggressive on a lot of them.”

Ko shot a 66, making a 30-foot bogey putt on the par-3 18th after driving over the green and watching her second bang into the bank and roll back to her feet.

“Lie wasn’t good. Really, like no grass, and just like it was a cart path, so it was hard,” Ko said. “But I had good putt, so I’m happy.”

Korda matched Ko with a two-putt birdie on the par-5 15th, then hit to 3 feet for a birdie on the par-4 17th and to 2 feet on 18.

“I knew that she was going to come out and play great,” Korda said about Ko. “That’s what she does being world No. 1. You wouldn’t expect anything less. I was just trying to play my own game, and that’s exactly what I’m going to try to do tomorrow.”

She won the season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions in January for her sixth LPGA Tour title.

Korda birdied the first three holes to open the six-stroke lead, hitting to a foot on Nos. 2 and 3. She parred the next five and bogeyed the par-4 ninth to fall into a tie with Ko. Korda also bogeyed Nos. 11 and 13 before rallying late.

“It was tough,” Korda said. “Once we hit that mark of no movement for about 20 minutes, it was just really, really slow and it was hard for he to gain my momentum back. I was still hitting really good shots. I just didn’t have any opportunities. I was kind of always above the hole, and trying to nestle something down close to the hole is tough when you’re trying to make birdies.”

Ko had six birdies and a bogey in a front-nine 30. She bogeyed Nos. 10 and 11 and birdied Nos. 13-15. The seven-time LPGA Tour winner is coming off a two-week break after finishing seventh in the major ANA Inspiration.

“Tomorrow, I don’t care about my scores or whatever, just trying to my game on the course and have fun,” Ko said.

Brooke Henderson got a spot alongside Korda and Ko in the final group Saturday, shooting a 67 to get to 12 under. The Canadian birdied Nos. 15-17, then had a 7-foot birdie try slide left on 18. She rebounded from a double bogey on No. 6.

“I think when you have bad holes like that it’s really important to just stay patient and keep doing what you’re doing,” Henderson said. “I didn’t really do anything wrong. Just kind of one shot got away from us and ended up making a big number. So just tried to stay in the moment and continue to hit good shots.”

Angela Stanford was 11 under after a 68, and So Yeon Ryu and Hannah Green each shot 69 to get to 9 under. Morgan Pressel had a 66 to match Tiffany Chan (70) at 8 under.

Sei Young Kim, playing alongside Ko and Korda in the final group, had a 76 to fall into a tie for 18th at 4 under. She closed with her second double bogey of the day.

Korda broke the 54-hole mark of 11 under set by Minjee Lee in her 2019 victory. Lee holds the 72-hole mark of 14 under in the event that was first played in 2018 and was canceled last year.

PGA Tour

Tony Finau and Cameron Champ shot a 4-under 68 in alternate-shot play for a share of the Zurich Classic lead with the Norwegian duo of Viktor Hovland and Kris Ventura in Avondale, La.

Hovland and Ventura had a 69 to match Finau and Champ at 13-under 131. The teams will play best ball Saturday, and close with an alternate-shot round Sunday at the TPC Louisiana.

Hovland and Ventura, also tied for the lead after the first round, birdied five holes. But they were left to rue a double bogey on 16, when Hovland hit their approach shot from a fairway bunker into the water short and left of the green.

Finau and Champ briefly surged to a two-shot lead after birdies on the par-4 10th and the par-5 11th. But they bogeyed the par-4 12th when Finau’s approach fell short of the right side of the green.

But Finau made up for it with a birdie putt of nearly 6 feet on 18.

Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose birdied seven holes, including the par-3 17th with a 12-foot putt by Rose. But they also bogeyed three holes to shoot a four-under 68 that put them at 11 under and tied for third with Bubba Watson and Scottie Scheffler.

Billy Horschel and Sam Burns were a shot off the lead through 14 holes, but bogeyed 15 and then double-bogeyed the par-5 18th after Burns' tee shot went in the water right of the fairway and Horschel's next shot landed in a fairway bunker. They head to the third round tied for ninth at 8 under.

Europe

Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen shot 9 under for a course record 61 to take the lead of the Gran Canaria Open in Las Palmas, Spain after two rounds 

Olesen hit an eagle on a par-5 hole to go with seven birdies on an error-free day at the Meloneras Golf Course on Spain’s Canary Islands.

Olesen, who became a father this month, said his laid-back approach was key to his good play in his first event of the season after recovering from a wrist injury.

On a day of low scores, Sam Horsfield and Connor Syme also shot a record 61 for the round. Horsfield is four shots back, and Syme six shots off the pace.

Rhys Enoch and Wil Besseling are one shot behind Olesen, followed by Matthias Schwab, Robin Roussel and Maximilian Kieffer at two back.

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