LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Third-ranked Nelly Korda, chasing her first major golf title, fired a five-under-par 67 to seize a two-stroke lead after yesterday’s second round of the LPGA ANA Inspiration.
The 22-year-old American daughter of Czech tennis star Petr Korda, the 1998 Australian Open champion, stood on 11-under 133 after 36 holes at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
“Everything in golf I feel like is all about confidence and momentum, so just having that confidence and believing in yourself is definitely really important,” Korda said.
South Korea’s Lee Mi-rim was second on 135 after a bogey-free 65 with Denmark’s Nanna Madsen and American Lexi Thompson – the 2014 winner – sharing third on 137. South Korea’s Chun In-gee and Malaysia’s Kelly Tan shared fifth on 138.
Korda, who began on the back nine, birdied the par-3 14th and 17th holes then birdied the first and made key par saves from 20 feet at the par-5 second and 25 feet at the par-4 third.
“Definitely really important. I did not know what I was doing on those two holes. I was happy those two (par putts) went in.
“Golf is all about momentum. When those roll in, it makes it a lot easier.”
Korda, who led by one after 18 holes, rolled in a 10-foot downhill putt to birdie the par-3 eighth as well in desert heat.
“I am happy for my putting today,” she said. “Just consistent play and having fun. We have a lot of fun on the golf course and try to keep it super light.”
Korda won last year’s Women’s Australian Open and French Ladies Open while defending her title at the LPGA Swinging Skirts Taiwan event.
“She played really well,” Thompson said of Korda. “I’m just going to try to play my own game out here this weekend and see how it goes.”
Lee birdied the par-5 second and ninth holes as well as the par-3 fifth, then opened the back nine with a birdie and birdied three of the last five holes to stand second.
“It feels so good to be back and playing competitively,” said Lee, who spent the shutdown in her homeland.
Madsen birdied the par-5 ninth and 11th holes and sank another at the par-3 17th in a bogey-free 69 round.
“I was feeling pretty good,” Madsen said. “Only hit four fairways today. I’m just happy I kept it going. I’ve been out of position a lot, so it has been very defensive.”