“I'm a Florida girl. I do not like this. I like fall fashion, but I do not like playing golf in this kind of weather.”
Nelly Korda may not be a fan of the chillier conditions at Tiburon Golf Club on Friday, but that didn’t stop the young three-time LPGA Tour winner from recording a second-round 66 at the CME Group Tour Championship to shoot up the leaderboard from a tie for 36th into a tie for fifth at -6. Korda tied her lowest 18-hole score in Naples, which she previously recorded in last year’s third round.
“I just feel super comfortable out here. I guess it's because I grew up in Florida. Just the style of this golf course, I just feel super confident out here,” said Korda, who has three top-10 finishes in her three appearances at the Tour Championship. “It was really nice to roll in some putts. I wasn't putting too well yesterday, but my dad -- behind the fence -- saw me putt on the putting green after my round and helped me out a little bit. So that really helped today,”
It was a significant difference from last week, where Korda said she felt “rusty” while competing in the U.S. Women’s Open, her first event since withdrawing due to a back injury from the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Korda said it was a learning experience, as the 22-year-old became motivated to play better at the LPGA Tour’s season finale.
“It was more of like my feel wasn't really there. At the end of the day, no one really pays attention I think to like, ‘Oh, she was injured.’ They pay attention to the score,” said Korda, who missed the cut last week at Champions Golf Club. “For me to step back and say, okay, my team knows I was rusty and I didn't play well. It's okay. You're going to have bad tournaments. Just focus on the upcoming one and do as well as you can.”
LEXI BATTLES BACK TO STAY IN THE HUNT AT SEASON FINALE
With her legs up against the revetted wall of the greenside bunker on the par-5 17th at Tiburón Golf Club, Lexi Thompson pulled off one of the greatest golf shots ever seen at the CME Group Tour Championship. She failed to make the six-foot birdie putt, but the effort resembled the type of resiliency shown by Thompson throughout the second round of the LPGA Tour season finale this afternoon.
“Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to watch that,” said Thompson, in awe of her own accomplishment. “My brother [and caddy Curtis] was like, ‘the main focus is to not hit the lip on your downswing. I was like, yeah. He was like, ‘just open up.’ Well then I’m going to hit my leg. It was one of those shots where you hit and hope. I got in there and was like, okay, there is this miracle shot and it happened.”
Thompson managed a birdie on No. 2 before bogeys at Nos. 3 and 9 to make the turn at 1-over par. The 2018 CME Group Tour Championship winner rebounded with birdies on Nos. 14 and 15 to climb back into red figures for the round.
She closed a 1-under par 71 with three straight pars—including the rabbit out of a hat shot at No. 17—to remain within striking distance at -8 overall. Thompson will join the Rolex Rankings No. 1 and 36-hole leader Jin Young Ko and defending CME Group Tour Championship champion Sei Young Kim in the final grouping of the third round off No. 1 tee at 10:50 a.m. ET tomorrow.
“Every time I tee it up, I know I’m competing against the best,” Thompson said. “I don’t think I’ve been paired with them together ever in my career. It’ll be nice. Looking forward to the weekend and hopefully get some good weather, go out and have two more good rounds.”