BELLEAIR, Florida – The Pelican LPGA Championship leaderboard is an absolute dream. The number 1 in the world, Nelly Korda, tied on points with the 11-time winner Lexi Thompson at the age of 16, headlined a kind of Holy Smokes board at the penultimate event of the LPGA season.
Jennifer Kupcho, the first woman to lift a trophy at the Augusta National, pulls you behind her and completes the all-American final group. While Kupcho seeks her first win on the Tour, Thompson looks to win for the first time since June 2019, and Korda looks to take her fourth LPGA win to overtake Jin Young Ko in the Player of the Year race. No American has won four times in one season since Stacy Lewis in 2012.
Add the always entertaining Christina Kim, who is two at 14 and wants to save her card, 2020 pelican champion Sei Young Kim (-14), 2021 rookie Patty Tavatanakit (-13), former No. 1 Lydia Ko (-13), Solheim sensation Leona Maguire (-12) and fan favorite Maria Fassi (-10) and a Sunday not to be missed.
Also at stake are places in the CME Group Tour Championship for a $ 1.5 million chance and a chance for players like Lauren Coughlin and Kim to avoid the LPGA Q-Series.
63 🔥 @NellyKorda ends her round with a birdie to tie the lead… again. pic.twitter.com/IvoXHVLhMx
– LPGA (@LPGA) November 13, 2021
On Sunday, Korda and Thompson will compete in the final group together for the first time, but don’t look for Nelly to come out of her shoes and try to pull you past Thompson.
“I mean, I feel like I’m at a distance, we’re pretty close,” said Korda, who is an average of 308 yards from the tee this week. “I definitely have a different aisle and I don’t like it because this aisle, I never know if it goes right or left. That’s why I like to keep it level. But I mean, she plays well. I heard that she is also very good at cleaning. “
Playing in front of her mom Judy for the first time since CME 2019, Thompson has averaged 26 putts this week and said she’s been doing three-hour sessions on her stroke a lot lately. This also includes evening sessions on the Perfect Practice Putting Mat.
“Oh, it’s right in my living room,” Thompson said with a laugh. “Just staring at me. So I think I should putt. “
No doubt 👏 @Lexi collects her sixth birdie of the day to reclaim her place at the top of the leaderboard.
Watch round 3 now in the NBC Sports app ➡️ https://t.co/ZcjVG5enlY pic.twitter.com/4Tabajd9zL
– LPGA (@LPGA) November 13, 2021
Kim, who is playing on sponsorship waiver this week, played her first round of competition with Korda on Saturday and said she could be her new biggest fan.
“Like as a person,” she said. “Her golf, of course, you can give her a frying pan and she will be able to do anything with any club.
“But as a person, like the grace she has, she was super patient with me because I said, ‘Let’s talk.’ And she was just totally open to it. “
Maguire, the undisputed “Woman of the Match” in Inverness in September, opened the week with a 62 and thinks she might need another on Sunday.
“I suppose this golf course needs your attention,” said Maguire, who, like Kupcho and Fassi, is looking for her first win on the LPGA.
Ko arrived on the west coast of Florirda on Monday, fresh after winning the Ladies European Tour in Saudi Arabia. She went to bed at 1:30 a.m. and woke up at 5:30 a.m. to leave. It was a tough practice session.
“At the time, I somehow didn’t know who I was,” said Ko, who found that she often slept so deeply on long-haul flights that flight attendants sometimes asked if she was okay.
If she doesn’t have a tournament for the next week, Ko often pulls through the night before she leaves so she can sleep through whole international flights.
“To all the flight attendants out there,” she said, “I’m the most likely reluctant, hands-free passenger on board.”
Should Ko win on Sunday, she can simply pack the trophy in the car and drive to Naples, Florida.
The night through the night is of course optional.