LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Jessica Korda birdied three of her last four holes to keep her nose in front at the LPGA Los Angeles Open, where she led world No. 1 Ko Jin-young by one stroke after three rounds on Friday (April 23).
The 28-year-old fired a three-under 68 at Wilshire Country Club for a 54-hole total of 16-under 197.
“I’m just trying to be patient,” Korda said. “It’s tough. It’s tough to win out here. Still have 18 holes left and I just want to give myself an opportunity to win.”
A bogey at the par-three 18th saw South Korea’s Ko fall one behind after her five-under 66 for 198.
Korda, ranked 21st in the world, held a three-shot lead going into the second round and looked like making it a runaway when three straight birdies to start the day pushed her advantage to six strokes.
But she dropped three shots in the space of five holes in the middle of her round and Ko stepped on the accelerator with a run of five birdies in six holes – at the fourth to sixth and eighth and ninth.
“Honestly, it’s just hitting it in the right spots,” Korda said. “Pins were definitely tougher today than they have been the last two days, more tucked, so it was hard to be aggressive on a lot of them.”
On a back-and-forth back nine, she still held a one-shot lead as the last-group playing partners arrived at the 13th, where Ko’s birdie coupled with Korda’s bogey saw the South Korean take the lead.
Ko added birdies at Nos. 14 and 15, but Korda wouldn’t go away, nabbing birdies of her own at the 15th and 17th.
Down by one arriving at the par-three 18th, Korda gave herself a four-foot birdie chance while Ko missed the green and saw her first chip up to the putting surface roll back to her feet.
Ko would eventually curl in a long putt for bogey – her fourth of the day – before Korda stepped up to make her birdie putt and regain the lead.
“It was fun and I had a lot of chances for birdie. I had great round still,” Ko said.
Brooke Henderson was alone in third after a four-under 67 for 201.
The Canadian bounced back after a double-bogey six at the sixth hole with six birdies the rest of the way, including three in her last four holes.
“I didn’t really do anything wrong,” she said. “One shot got away from us and ended up making a big number. So I just tried to stay in the moment and continue to hit good shots.”
It was a further stroke back to American Angela Stanford, who carded a 68 for 202.