Nelly Korda sets a single round course record, takes lead to final day

Sports

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — When walking around Blythefield during the third round of the Meijer LPGA Classic, it was hard to miss the stardom from current and former Detroit Red Wing players.

Current Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings forward Tyler Bertuzzi, and former Red Wing and Calder Cup Champion with Grand Rapids Andreas Athanasiou were all in attendance. 

Why? Because Athanasiou is dating Nelly Korda, who came into Saturday tied for fourth at -10, five back of the leader Leona Maguire (-15).

While the professional hockey players did draw plenty of attention from spectators and media, nobody missed what Korda did on the course.

She owned moving day.

The four-time LPGA Tour champion tied a course record score to par by going -10, putting her at -20 through the first three rounds. Last year’s champion Brooke Henderson won the whole thing at -20.

Korda still has 18 holes to go.

“Any day you can make a move up the leaderboard is a good day,” Korda said. “It’s definitely a big confidence booster after missing the cut at the US Open.

“I didn’t know I’d shoot a 62 today, but I like this golf course a lot.”

That 62 came at the hands of 11 birdies from Korda, which puts her second all-time in LPGA history for players who have holed 11 birdies in a single round. The -10 is also a new career best for the Bradenton, Florida native. On top of that, her three round total (196) matches a career-best 54 hole score.

Korda started the day off on absolute fire to set the tone, birdieing her first three holes, which were all par fours. She would then birdie holes six and eight before a 45 minute rain delay.

When she came back out, she parred hole nine and birdied 10. Her only bump in the road today came on 11 where she bogeyed a short par three, but bounced back to birdie five of the remaining seven holes.

In a course that many view as very getable when it comes to birdies, Korda simply didn’t miss.

“I finished inside the top 10 the last time we played here (2019) so I just feel comfortable out here,” Korda said. “I was hitting fairways and putting it close, so when you end up with putts inside of ten feet, you’re bound to roll one or two in.”

As far as her support from Athanasiou, plus his friends Larkin and Bertuzzi, it is something she has gotten used to dating the LA Kings player. 

“It’s cool to have a little cheer squad,” Korda said with a laugh. “Usually it’s me for them, now Andreas is on another team. But they are all good buddies and it’s nice to look up and see them out here.”

The closest opponent to catching Korda is still Maguire even after having a disappointing day of going just -2, she still finds herself at -17 overall. Just one back of her in third place is Madelene Sagstrom (-16) after going -7 in round three.

In rounds one and two, Maguire was doing a good job taking advantage of the par five birdie chances, leading her to go -15. On Saturday, though, she admitted to struggling at times and hopes to correct it for her first tour title. 

“I got to the green to give myself a lot of chances but I just didn’t have any putts today,” Maguire said. “You have to make putts (at Blythefield) to make birdies and I didn’t really do that today. It was a little bit of a frustrating day but it felt good to hang in there.”

For Korda, the feeling is a little different heading into the final day. The 22-year-old is looking for her fifth tour title, so this isn’t her first time under the spotlight.

Yet, she doesn’t know how she will feel when she tries to sleep before the final 18 holes.

“Every time is different,” Korda said. “Some nights I’ve gone to sleep and haven’t been nervous, others I can’t sleep because I’ve woken up so many times in the middle of the night. 

“We’ll see tomorrow if I’m rested or not.”

Fans more than likely won’t know how tired Korda is tomorrow, but what they will be watching for is a title and maybe more history to be made.

Based on today, the evidence backs up Korda having all the tools to win the whole thing. When the spotlight was on for moving day, no one shined brighter.

Tomorrow the lights just get a little brighter.

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