Nelly Korda birdied three of her final four holes on Friday to shoot a four-under 67 and take a two-shot lead midway through the LPGA Drive On Championship.
Seeking her first LPGA Tour victory since 2022, the former world No. 1 was at 10-under through 36 holes at Bradenton Country Club, a Donald Ross-designed course in her hometown that she hasn’t played all that often.
Korda got a big roar when she closed her round by hitting a six-iron to about six feet for birdie on the par-three ninth hole.
“It’s honestly such a cool feeling,” Korda said. “Today when we teed off, we had a really big crowd going down one too. I’ve definitely felt a lot of support. Hopefully I can bring out more family and friends this weekend too to become louder.”
So Mi Lee had the second-best round of the day, a 65. She was two shots back.
Lydia Ko, who won last week’s season opener and shared the first-round lead with Korda, was three shots behind after a 70, alongside Xiyu Lin (66) and Ayaka Furue (67).
“I did feel like I didn’t have my A-game, but still to shoot under par on a day where you don’t feel like it’s as solid is a good place to be,” Ko said.
Korda started on the back nine and bogeyed the par-four fifth hole to fall to one-under for the day. She followed with birdies on the par-five sixth and eighth.
“I just knew that I could probably take advantage of the two par-fives. I knew I had two par-fives coming up, and if I had good drives, they’re both reachable,” Korda said. “Everyone is going to make mistakes. It’s all just about minimising it.”
Lexi Thompson was five shots back after a 67, along with Scotland’s Gemma Dryburgh, who made four successive birdies to finish her second round.
Dryburgh’s Solheim Cup team-mate Maja Stark had the low round of the day, a 64 that was a 12-shot improvement over her opening-round score, to make the cut with two shots to spare at two under.
Dryburgh is the leading European, but France’s Celine Boutier and England’s Mel Reid are just a shot behind her on four-under.
Watch a FREE LIVE STREAM of the third round of the LPGA Drive On Championship from 5pm on Saturday via the Sky Sports Golf YouTube channel, or on Sky Sports Mix from 7pm on Saturday. Also stream the best golf and more sport with NOW.
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