Eight-time LPGA Tour winner Nelly Korda finds herself at the top of the leaderboard for the third consecutive day at the LPGA Drive On Championship. Korda had a quiet start to the day, maintaining her 10-under par position for the first five holes of the day. She picked up a quick birdie on the par-5 sixth hole before making back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 7 and 8. Both bogeys caused my errant drives off the tee, the 25-year-old shifted gears before heading into the back nine at Bradenton Country Club.
“My first four holes I think I didn't have a putt outside ten feet and just wasn't able to convert it. I was hitting good solid putts. Just with the wind it was hard to judge. And then I got into -- I birdied the par-5 and then unfortunately snap hooked my next two tee shots, which ended up both of them being bogeys. And then just had a fresh attitude coming into the back nine. I mean, it's not how you start it's how you finish. Hopefully I can lead that into tomorrow,” said Korda. “It's nice to have a really positive teammate like I do in Jason (her caddie). He always makes sure I keep my head up and never doubt myself pretty much, to tell myself that I can make any hole an opportunity for birdie.”
After dropping a shot on the leaderboard, she kept making pars after the turn, breaking up a streak of them with a birdie on the par-4 13th hole. Korda make three more pars before finishing her round with an eagle-birdie finish to turn in a three-under round, and take a four-shot lead headed into tomorrow’s round. SA win on Sunday would be Korda’s first since 2022, and her ninth in her professional career.
“It’s a confidence boost knowing I can climb up the leaderboard and contend and stay in contention,” Korda said. “Definitely didn't have the great start today. I think I was one back after nine holes, and then kind of turned it around. But any single time I get to be in contention I learn more about myself and how to handle the situations more. Hopefully I can put together a good round for the hometown.”
Trailing closely behind the Bradenton local is 2023 CPKC Women’s Open champion Megan Khang, eight-time JLPGA and one-time LPGA Tour winner Ayaka Furue and 20-time LPGA Tour winner Lydia Ko. Khang moved up into a tie for second place after a third-round 66 bumped her up from a tie in 12th. Last season, the three-time U.S. Solheim Cup team member became a Rolex-First Time Winner and is on the hunt for her second victory of her career. Joining the LPGA tour in 2022, Furue shot two-under par on Saturday to continue her seek for her first victory since she won the 2022 Women’s Scottish Open. Ko shot a 69 in her third round in hopes of staying near the top of the leaderboard to earn her 21st victory and make history as the 35th member of the LPGA Hall of Fame.
2024 LPGA Tour Rookie Auston Kim and three other players sit in a tie for fifth place. Kim shot a third-round 64 to move from a tie in 40th to in contention. The rookie’s third round was the lowest amongst the field for the day, and ties for the lowest round of the week, set by Swede Maja Stark. Three players, Lexi Thompson, Gemma Dryburgh and Jasmine Suwannapura sit six shots behind the leader in the clubhouse and round out the top-10 players in the field headed into Sunday’s final round.