Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson tied for lead in low-scoring LPGA

Nov 13, 2021, 12:55 AM | Updated: 3:08 pm
Jin Young Ko stretches during the first round of the LPGA Pelican Women's Championship golf tournam...

Jin Young Ko stretches during the first round of the LPGA Pelican Women's Championship golf tournament at Pelican Golf Club, Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Belleair, Fla. (Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

(Martha Asencio-Rhine/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

BELLEAIR, Fla. (AP) — Nelly Korda started with two birdies and finished the same way Saturday, making up plenty of ground along the way for a 7-under 63 that gave her a share of the lead with Lexi Thompson in the Pelican Women’s Championship.

Low scores ruled the day again at Pelican Golf Club, with 10 rounds at 65 or better.

Thompson did her part with a 65 that allowed her to join Korda at 16-under 194, with no shortage of contenders right behind them heading into the final round.

“I’ve been hitting it actually really close this week, giving myself a lot of opportunities,” Korda said. “Capitalized a little bit more today. But it’s going to probably take a low one tomorrow.”

Eight players were separated by four shots, a list that included defending champion Sei Young Kim (65) and long-shot Christina Kim (65), who earned a late sponsor exemption that all but ensured she would keep a full LPGA Tour card for next year.

Jennifer Kupcho was tied for the lead until she ended a streak of 45 consecutive holes at par or better by closing with a bogey for a 66. She was along in third, with Kim and Kim two behind.

Korda finished her round with a 9-iron from 128 yards that floated out of the sky to 3 feet. In the week she returned to No. 1 in the women’s world ranking, Korda now has a chance to make up ground on Jin Young Ko in the points-based award for LPGA player of the year.

Ko, who has won four times in her last seven starts to take over the top spot, leads by 15 points, with 30 points available to this week’s winner.

ANA Inspiration winner Patty Tavatanakit, having already clinched LPGA rookie of the year, would need to win to have a mathematical chance at player of the year. She had a 64 and was three shots behind, along with Lydia Ko (64).

“I just want to keep it light. I don’t want to think about winning tomorrow, just because if it were to be mine, it will be mine tomorrow if I can hold putts, hit good shots, execute,” Tavatanakit said. “If not, I’ll just go out there and just finish another round and one step closer to offseason.”

Korda already has three victories this year on the LPGA Tour — her Olympic gold medal does not — and could join Ko with a fourth win.

Ko finished with a birdie for a 67, but she was slowed by three bogeys and fell seven behind.

Thompson has even more at stake. She has gone more than two years since her last LPGA Tour victory, having already squandered a great chance earlier this year at the U.S. Women’s Open.

Thompson, tied with Kupcho to start the round, had three straight birdies on the front nine to get in front and stay there for most of the day.

“It’s amazing what she’s accomplished,” Thompson said about Korda. “Everybody knows how good the Korda sisters are as players and athletes. The whole family is. It’ll be a good final day. Looking forward to it. Hopefully we just make a lot of birdies out there.”

The top 60 in the Race to CME Globe after this week advance to the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship, which offers $1.5 million to whoever wins.

That appears set barring a big charge Sunday by Maria Fassi of Mexico, who bogeyed her final hole for a 68 and was six shots behind. Fassi likely needs to be runner-up to have any chance at getting into the top 60.

Even more critical for some players is finishing in the top 100 in the Race to CME Globe standings to keep full cards for next year. Lauren Coughlin was a late entry into the field at Pelican Golf Club and is making the most of it. She was No. 106 in the standings and shot 60 to tie for 11th, which would put her among the top 100 if she can stay there.

“I’ve been trying not to pay attention to it, just not give myself any added pressure,” Coughlin said. “I’m just trying to keep making birdies.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Alabama running back Jahmyr Gibbs (1) celebrates with tight end Cameron Latu (81) after scoring a t...
Associated Press

AP Top 25: Tide retakes No. 1 from UGA; Kansas snaps drought

Alabama reclaimed No. 1 from Georgia in The Associated Press college football poll in one of the closest votes in the recent years, and six teams — including Kansas — made their season debut on Sunday. The Crimson Tide received 25 first-place votes and 1,523 points in the AP Top 25 presented by Regions Bank, […]
1 day ago
Manchester City's Erling Haaland holds the ball at the end of the English Premier League soccer mat...
Associated Press

Ronaldo spared as Man United humiliated by rampant City

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — So complete was the humiliation of Erik ten Hag’s first Manchester derby that he chose to protect Cristiano Ronaldo from enduring the shame of being associated with such a performance. A 6-3 defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad on Sunday flattered United, with substitute Anthony Martial firing twice late on […]
1 day ago
FILE - Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris watches players prepare for an NFL foot...
Associated Press

Defensive coordinators play big role in Rams-49ers rivalry

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — The play-calling head coaches get lots of the attention around the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers. But the success that Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan have had as coaches in Los Angeles and San Francisco has had as much to do with the play of their defenses. Those […]
1 day ago
Indonesian soccer fans chant slogans during a candle light vigil for the victims of Saturday's socc...
Associated Press

Soccer world reacts to disaster at Indonesia stadium

MADRID (AP) — A minute of silence was observed before soccer matches around the world on Sunday in honor of victims of the disaster at a stadium in Indonesia that claimed at least 125 lives, and top players, coaches and leagues sent condolences and messages of support. Most of the victims were trampled upon or […]
1 day ago
Minnesota Vikings place kicker Greg Joseph (1) kicks a field goal in the fourth quarter of an NFL m...
Associated Press

Vikings hang on for 28-25 win over Saints in London

LONDON (AP) — Greg Joseph kicked a 47-yard field goal with 24 seconds left and the Minnesota Vikings hung on for a 28-25 win over New Orleans on Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when the Saints’ Wil Lutz’s 61-yard tying attempt hit the left upright and then the crossbar as time expired. Vikings star receiver […]
1 day ago
FILE - Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (99) is shown before an NFL football game against ...
Associated Press

J.J. Watt says he’s playing 4 days after atrial fibrillation

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt says he had his heart shocked into rhythm after going into atrial fibrillation this week, and he still plans to play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers. The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year tweeted Sunday, “I was just told somebody leaked some personal information […]
1 day ago
Nelly Korda, Lexi Thompson tied for lead in low-scoring LPGA