Sat. Mar 2nd, 2024

BRADENTON, Fla. — Nelly Korda birdied three of her final four holes on Friday to shoot a 4-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 132 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 6-iron to about 6 feet for birdie on the par-3 ninth hole.

“It’s honestly such a cool feeling,” Korda said. “Today when we teed off, we had a really big crowd going down 1 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-4 fifth hole to fall to 1 under for the day. She followed with birdies on the par-5 sixth and eighth.

“I just knew that I could probably take advantage of the two par 5s. I knew I had two par 5s 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 minimizing it.”

Lexi Thompson was five shots back after a 67. 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 2 under.

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