BELMONT, Michigan – A loud horn sounded as Nelly Korda turned the corner at Blythfield Country Club on Saturday.
It was a weather delay. Something Korda feared when she shot 5 under in the front. But the 45-minute break didn’t slow her down a bit. She struck five more strokes from her score in the back half and ended the day with 10 under 62, a career record. She is currently sitting with a three-shot lead at 20 under the course in the fourth round of the Meijer LPGA Classic.
Korda made 11 birdies that day, the second highest in LPGA history. Only two fewer than Annika Sörenstam’s 13-birdie performance 20 years ago on the way to a 59.
“I kept it tight. I guess I felt it outside today, ”said Korda. “I had a lot of tight putts, I was really used to my irons and wedges. That helps with shorter putts. “
She started the day five shots behind Leona Maguire but wasted no time trying to get back up the leaderboard. She started her round with three straight birdies. She shot her only bogey of the day on the 11th hole, just one hole after restarting after the weather delay.
Although her only slip on the pitch came shortly after being late, she said it didn’t affect her game very much. She felt safe over her ball and the wet greens made her aim straight at the pin, knowing the ball wouldn’t roll far after it hit.
“Definitely a lot softer, you can be a lot more aggressive on the greens,” said Korda. “The greens are bouncy, they are a little slower, but bouncy. To make them soft, I can just aim at the hole and shoot. “
While Korda came back to the square as if nothing had happened, this could not be said of Madelene Sagstrom. She rolled through her first nine holes and passed the 5 under of the leader. But after the delay, she felt a little slow.
Despite playing a bogey-free round, she wasn’t able to make birdie again until the 16th. She followed up with another birdie on 18 to hit a 7-under 65. That’s good enough for third place before the finals, but if it weren’t for the bad weather, she could have scored lower points.
“I wish I could have continued because I played so well,” said Sagstrom. “After you stopped and we couldn’t warm up, I was just trying to get my swing back and I’m glad I got those 2 after the delay.”
Maguire, who had a comfortable three-shot pad for the day, couldn’t protect her lead. She finished her round 2 under and is 17 under in second place for the tournament.
Their holes from the tee to the dance floor were stuck all afternoon. But earlier in the week when she was able to do putts, it wasn’t possible on Saturday. As soon as she signed her scorecard, she went to the training green and tried to book in for the final round tomorrow.
“I played pretty well from the tee to the green. Gave me a lot of chances. I just didn’t punch any putts today, couldn’t get it going properly, ”said Maguire. “You have to put putts here to get some birdies. I didn’t really do that. “
Although she said she’d like to stay in the lead until Sunday, it couldn’t all be bad. With Korda at the top of the leaderboard, the Irish native said she could play freely in the finals.
She is still on the lookout for her first LPGA win, but she knows that not all eyes will be on her when they tee off tomorrow. You will be with your play partner.
“All the pressure is on Nelly. Everyone expects Nelly to win tomorrow. She is ranked [top 5] nobody in the world expects me to do anything, ”said Maguire. “I really have nothing to lose. I can just go out, play golf and see what happens. “
Korda’s sister Jessica was having a good day herself. She shot 5 under Saturday and is tied in 12th place, eight shots behind the lead. She knows most of the field has a long way to go to catch up with Nelly.
But at Blythfield, where players are consistently shooting well below their level, anyone can get hot at the right time. This week is all about how the greens rolled.
“The greens are slow out here so you’re just trying to get the putts to the hole. That’s it, ”said Jessica. “I think a lot of us out on the golf course leave a lot of putts in the center and a little short, which gets a little frustrating.”
For Nelly, she hopes to keep going until Sunday. After missing the cut at the US Open, her only missed cut of the year, the round on Saturday helped boost her confidence.
The trick now is to keep it there tomorrow.
“Every day a new day, there are 18 more holes,” said Korda. “There are a lot of girls teamed up, a lot of birdie opportunities, so take it shot by shot and see how it goes.”
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Will Kennedy at Will.Kennedy@hollandsentinel.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByWillKennedy and Facebook @Holland Sentinel Sports.