Henderson tied with Korda at LPGA ANA Inspiration

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Brooke Henderson fired an eagle and six birdies in a seven-under par 65 yesterday to join Nelly Korda atop the third-round leaderboard in the LPGA ANA Inspiration.

Her sizzling effort in the California desert heat gave her a 12-under par total of 204, where she was joined by Korda who signed for a one-under 71.

They were two strokes in front of Australian Katherine Kirk, South Korean Lee Mi-rim and American Lexi Thompson.

Canada’s Henderson, who celebrated her 23rd birthday last Friday, started the day six adrift of overnight leader Korda but got things going early with a 15-foot eagle at the second hole at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, California.

Birdies at the fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth saw her make the turn at six-under for the day.

She held the solo lead after a birdie at 11 and followed up her only bogey of the day at 13 with testing downhill birdie putt at 16.

Nelly Korda plays a tee shot on the sixth hole during the third round of the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills Country Club. PHOTO: AFP

“Being a major championship, you’ve really got to stay patient and know bogeys are going to happen,” said Henderson, whose nine LPGA titles include a major triumph at the 2016 Women’s PGA Championship.

“The rough out there is very thick and you’re just praying it’s sitting up if you hit it in there,” added Henderson, who said it Mission Hills was a “totally different” course than the one players face in the tournament’s regular schedule slot in March.

“You just have to go with what the course gives you and just expect bogeys and try to make a lot of birdies to counter them.”

Korda, ranked third in the world and chasing her first major title, topped the leaderboard after each of the first two rounds.

But the 22-year-old American’s march slowed with a bogey at the fifth, followed by a double-bogey at the par-four sixth where her wedge out of the rough failed to clear the water.

She needed four shots to reach the green and missed a 12-foot bogey putt.

Korda responded with birdies at the 11th, 12th and 15th – landing her approach at the 12th within three feet.

“It was a disappointing front nine, but I was really proud of the way I fought on the back nine,” Korda said. “Never gave up and there’s still 18 more holes to be played, so much golf.”

Thompson, the 2014 ANA Inspiration champion, birdied three of the first five holes and bounced back from her first of two bogeys at the seventh with back-to-back birdies at eight and nine.

She bogeyed the 10th and parred her way in for a three-under 69 and her share of third.

Lee, who claimed the last of her three LPGA titles at the 2017 Kia Classic, had four birdies and three birdies in her one-under 71.

Aussie veteran Kirk nabbed six birdies with just one bogey in her five-under 67.

The 38-year-old is seeking her first major title, and would love to take the traditional champion’s leap into Poppie’s Pond.

“Doubly good because it’s so stinking hot out here and it would be great to cool off,” Kirk said.

“There are a lot of great players on the leaderboard,” she added. “I’m probably going to have to go low and it’s going to take a really good number.”