After 54 holes at the 2019 Buick LPGA Shanghai, two Americans have pulled clear of the field. Playing in the final group, Jessica Korda and Danielle Kang both returned rounds of 6-under 66 on Saturday at Qizhong Garden Golf Club. Korda leads the field at a tournament-record -15, with Kang just one stroke behind at -14.
Korda carded eight birdies on Saturday, including sticking her approach for birdie at No. 18 to 3 feet, to pull one stroke ahead of Kang. Despite the low numbers on her scorecard, Korda said she’s been battling through some swing issues since arriving in Shanghai.
“I've been struggling a little bit with my swing, so I've been working on it every day. It's slowly starting to kind of take its groove,” said Korda, who has five LPGA victories, most recently at the 2018 Honda LPGA Thailand. “And then just making some putts. You know, my speed has been pretty decent and giving myself some opportunities, which is what I need out here.”
Kang stepped to the tee at the par-4 17th two strokes off Korda’s lead. She promptly drove the green, setting up an eagle at the Aon Risk Reward Challenge hole and briefly pulling into a tie for the lead before Korda’s birdie at 18.
“I hit a dragonfly on my practice swing on the tee box so I was kind of panicking about that,” joked Kang, who is looking to defend her victory here in 2018. “Honestly, I know people might think that shouldn't throw you off, but Olly (Brett, her caddie) was joking around the entire time that the dragonfly is okay. The yardage just came out to be a perfect 5-wood and he said I could cover the entire bunker, so went middle of the green and he said rip at it and I did.”
Brooke Henderson, who led by two strokes at the start of the day, had an up-and-down round on Saturday, carding an eagle, two birdies, three bogeys and a closing double bogey for a 1-over 73. The Canadian’s tee shot at 18 found the penalty area to the left of the fairway and she two-putted to drop to -10 overall, five strokes behind Korda.
Japan’s Nasa Hataoka and American rookie Kristen Gillman are tied for fourth at -9. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jin Young Ko shot a 68 on Saturday and is tied for eighth at -6.