Nelly Korda birdied her last six holes to shoot a nine-under-par 63 and seize a one-stroke lead over fellow American Lizette Salas after Friday’s second round of the Women’s PGA Championship.
Korda, the 22-year-old daughter of retired Czech tennis star Petr Korda, stood on 11-under 133 after 36 holes at Atlanta Athletic Club in quest of her first Major title.
“I guess I just blacked out out there,” Korda said of her run, which she said was helped by having spectators for the event.
“It helps to have a crowd here,” she said. “I feel like when the crowd is here, they get behind you, they kind of give you a lot of energy, as well.”
Salas fired a second straight 67 to stand on 134 with France’s Celine Boutier, Canada’s Alena Sharp and American Cydney Clanton sharing a distant third on 137.
Korda, who began on the 10th hole with her lone bogey of the day, followed with a birdie at 11 and two more at the 14th and par-three 17th, then made another at the par-five 2nd before her amazing closing run.
Korda sank a 20-foot birdie putt at the par-three 4th, lipped out for eagle at the 5th, tapped in for birdie at 6 and sank a five-foot downhill putt at the par-three 7th. After a long birdie putt on the 8th, she pitched eight feet past the cup and curled in a downhill birdie putt.
“The one on No 8 was the highlight of my round,” Korda said. “I pushed my drive out right and I was near a root, so I wasn’t even sure if I could hit it. Thankfully, I hit just the top of it. It’s so scary when you have those types of shots. To drain a long putt was nice, too.”
Salas, the 18-hole leader, birdied the par-five 2nd and par-four 3rd holes, then reeled off three birdies in a row starting at the par-four 8th in a bogey-free round.
Korda has three top-three finishes in Majors, including a share of third at this year’s ANA Inspiration after a runner-up effort last year. Her best Women’s PGA result was a share of third in 2019.
Last week, Korda won her fifth career LPGA title at the Meijer Classic. She also won in February at Boca Rio.
Salas won her only LPGA title in 2014 at Kingsmill. Her best Major showing was a runner-up effort at the 2019 Women’s British Open.
Boutier, another back-nine starter, shot 64 to leap into contention. She birdied the 11th and par-five 12th, made another at the 16th and took full advantage of the par-five holes with birdies at 18, 2 and 5.
Boutier followed with an eagle at the par-four 6th, driving the ball eight feet from the cup and sinking the putt, then birdied the par-three 7th before taking her lone bogey at the 8th.
“I was able to hit my irons a lot closer today, so I had a lot of closer putts. Obviously, made a lot of them,” Boutier said.
© Agence France-Presse