Korda grabs two-stroke LPGA Drive On lead with late birdie binge

MIAMI: Reigning Olympic champion Nelly Korda birdied three of her last four holes to fire a four-under par 67 for a two-stroke lead after Friday's second round of the LPGA Drive On Championship.

The 25-year-old hometown hero and daughter of former Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda stood on 10-under 132 after 36 holes at Bradenton Country Club.

"I've hit it pretty well the past two days, drove it well, given myself some opportunities," Korda said. "At the end of the day, made some putts."

South Korean rookie Lee So-mi, making just her seventh tour start, fired a 65 to grab second on 134 with New Zealand's Lydia Ko, China's Lin Xiyu and Japan's Ayaka Furue sharing third on 135.

World number four Korda, who shared the 18-hole lead with Ko after opening 65s, began on the back nine and answered a bogey at the par-3 11th with a birdie at 13.

Korda birdied the par-3 15th and par-5 17th holes to seize the solo lead at the turn.

She stumbled with a bogey at the fifth but responded with birdies on the par-5 sixth and eighth holes and a closing birdie at the par-3 ninth to seize command.

"I just knew that I could probably take advantage of the two par-5s. If I had good drives, they're both reachable," Korda said. "Everyone is going to make mistakes. It's all just about minimising it."

Lee, a 25-year-old in her first event as an LPGA member, had her best tour finish in her debut, sharing fourth at the 2019 BMW Ladies Championship in South Korea.

The world number 58 birdied the second and fourth holes and added a birdie at the par-3 seventh and a bogey at the par-5 eighth.

Lee began the back nine with a birdie, added back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 and had another at the par-5 17th.

"My birdie putts dropped more today," Lee said. "There was a short par putt I missed, which was unbelievable, so it's a little disappointing, but I'm not a robot. I'm a human and can make mistakes."

Ninth-ranked Ko, coming off her 20th career LPGA triumph on Sunday at the season-opening Tournament of Champions, shot 70.

"I didn't have my A-game, but 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.

Furue, fourth last week, fired a 67 to leap into the hunt. She birdied four of the first six holes to charge into contention.

"I just concentrated on my play," Furue said.

"I was pretty good."

Lin opened with a birdie at 10, then made four bogeys in five holes from 12-16 before a birdie at the 17th. She birdied the first three holes after the turn then closed with four consecutive birdies.

"I feel good," Lin said. "It was a rough start. Nothing was really working... Finally on the back nine the putts really started to drop. I'm really proud of myself." --AFP

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