Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan – Nelly Korda was feeling hot on Friday, and it wasn’t just because of the scorching weather. The 23-year-old Team USA star matched her career-low round with a 9-under 62 at Kasumigaseki Country Club and surged to a four-stroke lead following the second round of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics women’s golf competition.
Korda’s 62 ties the women’s competition’s low single-round score, first set by Russia’s Maria Verchenova in the fourth round in 2016. It also ties Korda’s personal low round, set in the third round of her win at the Meijer LPGA Classic in June.
“I just stayed really solid today,” said Korda, a three-time 2021 LPGA Tour winner and current Rolex Rankings No. 1. “On the front I was definitely hitting it better and on the back I wasn't hitting it as well but making the longer putts.”
After opening with four pars, Korda made a 16-foot birdie at the par-5 fifth and added in a 25-foot eagle putt at the drivable par-4 sixth hole. She added three more birdies to make the turn at -6, knocked in five more birdies on the back nine, three from more than 15 feet. and stepped to the tee at the par-4 18th at -11 on the day and with a legitimate shot at the elusive 59.
Unfortunately, Korda found the left rough off the tee and was forced to pitch out, blocked by an overhanging tree limb. After laying up in the front bunker, she ultimately two-putted for a closing double bogey, a damper on what was otherwise an amazing display of Olympic-caliber golf.
“The limb was in my way and I would have had to like drawn it around out of the rough,” said Korda. “I just didn't think it was worth it, honestly. I was more thinking of, okay, pitch it out and then try to get it close and try to save a par. But I was a little too cute with that pitch shot and caught the bunker.”
Korda’s older sister Jessica Korda and Danielle Kang both sit tied for 11th at -4. Jessica Korda shot a bogey-free 67 in the second round, saying she felt a bit “flustered” by the extreme conditions that saw the heat index max out at 111 degrees.
“I left a lot out there,” said Korda. “I was definitely hitting the ball a lot better than yesterday and giving myself the birdie opportunities. You got to do that today.”
Kang shot her second consecutive 2-under 69, with an opening bogey at No. 1 and three birdies on the card. She said that her putter was the culprit behind her less-than-satisfying performance.
“I'm just not making a lot of putts out there. There's a lot of low scores there today and they made a lot of scorable holes, but I think the green speed is a bit on the slower side,” said Kang. “I just need to figure out, I need to calibrate that speed.”
Rounding out the American contingent, Lexi Thompson is tied for 39th at +1 overall following a second-round 71. She played with temporary caddie Drew Hinesley on the bag, after her regular caddie Jack Fulghum was sidelined on Wednesday with dehydration and over-heating.
Due to the high heat, third-round play will start off the first and 10th tees, starting at 7:30 a.m. local time.