JOHNS CREEK, Ga. Nelly Korda realized that there is a low score available at the Atlanta Athletics Club on Friday. For the longest time, she could not find them in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
And then the Birds came in bowls, one after the other, six straight to finish her second round, which puts her in the record book with a 9-under-63 and keeps her a lead of 1 over Lizette Salas in the give weekend.
“Golf is easy when you have days like that,” Korda said. “But it’s not always so.”
It definitely looks so late. Korda shot 62 in the third round last week on his way to winning the Meijer LPGA Classic, making the 22-year-old American the first multiple winner at the LPGA tournament this year.
This round might have been even better.
Over her last six holes on the top nine, Korda made birdies on both par-3s guarded in front by water. She had eagle holes on consecutive holes – one of them on the sixth par-4, with the tee moved up to make it play 229 yards – and missed them both neatly.
On the hardest hole on the course, she had to handle a tree root in front of her ball to get to the green and then made a 45-foot birdie hole. Korda concludes her round with an 8-foot wedge.
“I think I just turned black, a bit like last week,” Korda said.
She was 11 under 133, a shot ahead of Salas, who has hit all 18 greens in regulation, shot another 67 and has yet to make a thunder through 36 holes.
Korda equaled the championship record, which was set a year ago, when Sei Young Kim closed with a 63 to win at Aronimink. She had the third round of 63 at the Atlanta Athletics Club in a major, and participated Steve Stricker in 2011 and Mark O’Meara in 2001 at the PGA Championship.
And Korda still has work ahead of her if she wants to win her first major.
Salas did not come close to a mistake with her fixed diet of clean field and greens. It was her plan that came in, and the 31-year-old American carried it out excellently.
“I’m definitely happy,” Salas said. “We’ve achieved some goals, and we’re achieving them. I think my attitude was pretty good overall. It’s important. It’s supposed to be difficult. It’s supposed to test you in different ways, and I “I think it’s handled pretty well. And 67-year-old backs, I’m not going to complain.”
Celine Boutier of France drove the sixth green to 8 feet for an eagle, en route to a 64 that left her 4 strokes at 7 under 137 with Cydney Clanton (67) and Alena Sharp (68).
Inbee Park, who had been the grand champion seven times, was still on the lookout, finishing in the form of another gold in the Olympics, which stabbed an eagle and shot 68. She was 6 strokes behind.
Korda, with five wins at the LPGA Tournament, has never won rugby and talked about how draining it was earlier in the year after winning at Lake Nona.
Having spectators on the Highlands track helped, and she cheered them on a lot with her ten birdies, which followed her one-time boogie at the start of her round at no. 10.
“I definitely saw some layers,” Korda said of the morning counts. “At my top nine, I was like, ‘Where does everyone make birds?'”
She found them, including two accessible par-5s and the steerable par-4.
Korda’s large finish began with a 7-iron to 20-foot. She follows it with a 7-wood on the green on the fifth par-5 – her caddy told her not to go to the pin, but she could not resist – and then the 7-wood to the green on the achievable sixth and her best hold of the day, a 5-iron to 5-foot on the par-3 seventh.
The surprise was the big hole at number 8, and the last birdie was the perfect way to end a round like that.
Korda is not one of the previous week to stay, even if it resulted in a trophy.
“If you win, it’s hard,” she said. “I’ve never won at the end of my piece, I’ve always won like at the beginning. It’s not even like I won. In a sense you do not even do it. Enjoy it because I won and then, ‘Hey, this is an important championship, like getting ready.’
“These are two completely different golf courses and two different strategies. I just played good golf, and hopefully I can continue with that.”
Maria Fassi loses 2 strokes to a penalty goal for slow play, making a birdie in the 18th turn when she makes the turn. The former NCAA champion from Mexico had a 77 and she missed the cut by 1 stroke.