Golf

Nelly Korda flirts with 59, settles for four-shot lead after two rounds at Tokyo Olympics


In retrospect, Nelly Korda told Golf Channel after the round, she should’ve hit 3-wood off the tee on that last hole. Standing on the 18th tee, Korda needed a birdie up the last to become only the second woman to shoot 59. Annika Sorenstam became the first 20 years ago at an LPGA event in Arizona.

Here in Tokyo, Korda had history and a gold medal on the line.

When her tee shot leaked left and landed behind a tree limb, Korda felt she had no choice but to pitch out. She then tried to get “too cute” with her third shot and found the bunker. Korda wound up posting a double-bogey on the final hole to shoot 9-under 62 and match the women’s Olympic record.

Korda said she didn’t have 59 on her mind, nor did she realize the tee had been moved up on the 18th hole until after she hit driver.

“It’s golf,” she said, laughing about it after the round. “You’re going to make mistakes. No one is perfect.”

It wasn’t perfect, but as former No. 1 Jin Young Ko said, “It looks easy.” Korda leads the field by four at the midway point, should the weather allow for two more rounds of golf. Tee times have been moved up for Round 3 using split tees.

Officials plan to move them up even further for the final round Saturday. They’ll go to Sunday, weather permitting. If 72 holes cannot be completed, the competition will revert to a 54-hole event.

“I’m going to have the mindset that it’s going to be a 72-hole golf (tournament) and whatever happens, happens,” said Korda.

The World No. 1 hit 11 fairways and 16 greens for a second consecutive day and leads the field in greens in regulation through two rounds.

After making par on the first four holes, Korda made her most difficult putt of the week, a double-breaker for birdie on the par-5 fifth, to get the round going. She followed it up with an eagle on the drivable par-4 sixth, hitting 3-wood to 25 feet. Three birdies later, she’d made the turn in 30.

Korda was a stunning 11 under in a 13-hole stretch from Nos. 5-17. Those tuning into golf for the first time saw the best player in the world put on a clinic.

“It wasn’t easy,” she said, “but it was flowing.”

This is Korda’s second 62 of the season, matching her third-round effort at the Meijer LPGA Classic. She shot 63 in the second round of the KPMG Women’s PGA as well as the third round of the Lotte Championship in Hawaii. Korda won both the Meijer and KPMG, breaking through for her first major title.

Nelly Korda credits a mid-season switch to a left hand low putting grip as a spark in her game.  (Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports)

A three-time winner this season, Korda points to a mid-season grip change on the greens as a reason for her summer success. She made the switch to left hand low after missing the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open. The first event she ever put it into practice was last year’s AIG Women’s British Open.

“I always wanted to try it,” said Korda. “I always putted more with my left shoulder up and I wanted to see how it would be if I would have my shoulder square at setup. The only way to do it is if I gripped it left hand low. My shoulders just rock so much better and I’m just connected more with my chest when I’m putting when I grip it left hand low.”

Korda paces the field at 13-under 129. Three players are in a share of second at 9 under: Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Emily Kristine Pedersen, as well as Aditi Ashok of India.



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