Jessica Korda fires fifth 60 in LPGA history, pulls within 2 of leader Danielle Kang at Tournament of Champions
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida - Looking back, Jessica Korda couldn't believe her only par on the back nine was a par five. This is especially important considering the older Korda sister posted the fifth 60 in LPGA history on Saturday at Diamond Resorts' Tournament of Champions.
Korda said she wouldn't really count out there until she dropped an 18-foot putt for Eagle on the 17th hole to get down to 10 on the par-71 Tranquilo Golf Club. On the 18th, she hit a 6-iron at 9 feet to post her career best on her father Petr's 53rd birthday. Her back nine of 28 included seven birdies and an eagle.
"Days like today don't come often," said Jessica, "so you really appreciate them when they do." Everything has to come together to have a day like today. "
Despite this spectacular round, Korda followed Danielle Kang with two strokes in the final round. Kang, who didn't bogey in her final 70 holes dating back to the CME Group Tour Championship, made the 18th birdie to score 63 and end her career.
Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions: Ranking List | photos
Her 21-under-192 total broke the previous 54-hole tournament record by five strokes, reaching the total of 54 holes in all-time Tour history.
"I had a great time with Aaron Hicks and Mardy Fish," said Kang. "They're such good golfers, and Aaron left me about 150 yards behind and Mardy a solid 80. I was trying to just stick to my own game and take good shots."
Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions
Danielle Kang plays a shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions on the Tranquilo Golf Course at the Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club on January 23, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood / Getty Images)
Unlike the usual Sunday grouping at this event, the three best LPGA players will be in the last group and the penultimate group will consist of the three best celebrities. This means that the Korda sisters will join the leader Danielle Kang.
"You finally get your wish," said Jessica.
Nelly Korda screwed the first three holes of the day and got a share of the first at the beginning of the round with Kang. A pair of bogies on the 15th and 18th put them in third place, six hits back at 15.
Larry Fitzgerald, NFL recipient, and Brett Baier, Chief Political Anchor of Fox News, played alongside Jessica on Saturday, trying to get out of the way. Fitzgerald said he picked up numbers 16 and 18 so as not to mess up Korda's flow.
"I just wanted her to be comfortable and to keep her routine," said Fitzgerald, who sees more LPGA coverage than PGA Tour golf. "Once we're probably 13 or 14 years old and we've seen her suck up steam, you just don't do that." Talk to her unless she is talking to you. "
The trio took a photo with Korda's card after the round.
"I've played with Jessica a few times and I think I don't understand how this girl doesn't win all the time," said Angela Stanford. “She's bombing it. Once she finds out on the putting green, she will be unstoppable. "
Jessica, 27, is a five-time LPGA winner and has dealt with a number of health issues since becoming a professional. Her last win came at the 2018 Honda LPGA Thailand after undergoing major surgery to correct a severe overbite.
Kang, 28, also holds five LPGA titles and won the Vare Trophy for a low LPGA average last season. She won tournaments in a row in Toledo last season after the LPGA's extended hiatus for COVID-19.
"I think my mental game is pretty strong this week," said Kang. “Just chug a little. I know that I am really repeating myself, but that's what I do. I just focus on what to hit and what to do. That's pretty much it. "
Fish, a retired tennis player who is intimately familiar with the Korda family, leads the celebrity division with 117 points in the modified stableford format. Former NFL placekicker Josh Scobee is in second place at 111, while the Yankees' Hicks are in third place at 110 and girlfriend Cheyenne Woods is on the bag.
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