Saturday was one for the record books at the 2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions presented by Insurance Office of America. Five-time LPGA Tour champion Jessica Korda shot a bogey-free -11 for just the fifth 60 in LPGA Tour history. Korda opened with birdies on 1 and 2 and then made birdie or better on all but one hole in her inward nine, including draining an 18-foot eagle putt at No. 17. An ace at the par-3 18th hole would have given her just the second 59 in LPGA Tour history, but a 9-foot birdie was still a great way to cap an incredible day that put her at-19 overall, just two strokes off the lead.
“Days like today don't come often, so you really cherish them when they do,” said Korda, whose previous best round was a 62 in the second round of the 2018 Honda LPGA Thailand, which she went on to win. “Everything has to come together to have a day like today. So I'm very grateful that it came.”
NFL superstar Larry Fitzgerald and Fox News anchor Bret Baier played with Korda on Saturday and had a front-row seat to her magical day. Both players celebrated with her throughout the round, but also did their very best to stay out of her way and not ruin her chance at history. Fitzgerald, who called the experience “a pure courtesy and joy,” particularly marveled about Korda’s finesse on the two closing holes.
“She had about 200 yards in (on No. 17), you know, a long carry, two-tiered green. She stood up there and hit that shot and it did not move one iota, and then rolled that putt in,” said Fitzgerald. “The shot she hit on 18 was unbelievable. She played the contour of the greens, she hit it exactly where she wanted, and left herself below the hole. It was mastery at its finest. She had complete command of her ball today.”
Fellow five-time Tour winner Danielle Kang continued her bogey-free streak for the third consecutive day, tying her career-low round of 63 and setting the tournament’s 54-hole scoring record at -21. Her 192, which gives her a two-stroke lead over Korda, also ties the LPGA Tour’s low mark for strokes under par through 54 holes, previously done three times.
“Overall I think my game is pretty solid. I think my mental game is pretty strong this week. Just kind of chugging along,” said Kang, who is looking to become the first wire-to-wire winner without ties since Sei Young Kim at the 2019 CME Group Tour Championship. “I know I'm being really repetitive, but that's what I'm doing, is just focusing on what I need to hit and what I need to execute. That's pretty much it. I don't think ahead or behind. I just try and stay in the present and have fun with it.”
Kang and Korda will be joined by Jessica’s younger sister Nelly Korda in Sunday’s final group. Nelly Korda was 6 under through 14 holes, but bogeys at 15 and 18 dropped her to 4 under on the day and -15 overall. Two-time major champion In Gee Chun is fourth at -13, and Canadian superstar Brooke Henderson rounds out the top five at -12. Defending champion Gaby Lopez is tied for eighth at -9.
In the celebrity competition, former tennis player Mardy Fish continues to lead the field at +118, followed by New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Hicks and retired Jacksonville Jaguars kicker Josh Scobee at +111. Fish, Hicks and Scobee will play together in Sunday’s penultimate group. Two-time defending celebrity champion John Smoltz is tied for sixth at +103. The celebrity competition is played under a Modified Stableford scoring system.
SATURDAY’S RECORD-SETTING MARKS
Low 54 Holes, Raw Score
192, -21 (64-65-63), Danielle Kang, Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., 2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, par 71
192, -24 (63-65-64), Sei Young Kim, Thornberry Creek at Oneida, Oneida, Wis., 2018 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic, par 72
192, -21 (64-65-63), Nasa Hataoka, Pinnacle Country Club, Rogers, Ark., 2018 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, par 71
192, -24 (63-63-66), Annika Sorenstam, Seta Golf Course, Otsu-shi, Shiga, Japan, 2003 Mizuno Classic, par 72
Low 18 Holes, Raw Score
59 (28-31), Annika Sorenstam, Moon Valley Country Club, Phoenix, Ariz., second round, 2001 Standard Register PING, par 72
60 (32-28), Jessica Korda, Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., third round, 2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, par 71
60 (33-27), Paula Creamer, Highland Meadows Golf Club, Sylvania, Ohio, first round, 2008 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger, par 71
60 (31-29), Anna Acker-Macosko, The Ridge Golf Course, Auburn, Calif., fourth round, 2004 Longs Drugs Challenge, par 71
60 (29-31), Jung Yeon Lee, Dell Urich Golf Course, Tucson, Ariz., first round, 2004 Welch’s-Fry’s Championship, par 70
60 (30-30), Meg Mallon, Dell Urich Golf Course, Tucson, Ariz., second round, 2003 Welch’s-Fry’s Championship, par 70
Low 9 Holes, In Relation to Par
-9 (28), Jessica Korda, Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando, Lake Buena Vista, Fla., third round, 2021 Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, par 37; she shot 60
-9 (27), Mi Hyang Lee, Wildfire Golf Club, Phoenix, Ariz., 2016 JTBC Founders Cup, par 36; she shot 62
-9 (27), Amy Yang, Sky 72 Golf Club, Ocean Course, Incheon, Republic of Korea, 2015 LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, par 36; she shot 62