DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Entering the week, amateur Jessica Korda was one of the most popular names on the list of LPGA Q-School finalists. On Friday, the 17-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., showed why.
Beginning the day tied for 13th, the long-hitting Korda found the putting stroke she had been missing in Rounds 1 and 2 and rattled off five birdies in six holes on the back nine, turning in a 6-under 66 on LPGA International’s Legends Course to move into a share for second.
“A bunch of putts finally fell,” Korda said. “I started hitting it a little bit closer and started reading the lines a bit better and making some putts.”
After a pair of even-par opening rounds, Korda continued her pace on Friday, making ho-hum pars on the first six holes. But a tidy long iron into the lengthy par-3 seventh left her with a 7-footer for birdie, which she rolled in. After that, Korda dropped a 20-footer for birdie at No. 10 and a 6-footer at the 11th. After making par at No. 12, she continued to hit her approaches close and rolled in birdies at Nos. 13, 14 and 15 – all from 8-15 feet – and moved herself within a shot of 54-hole leader Libby Smith.
“I’ve been waiting for the birdies to start dropping,” Korda said. “I’ve been hitting my putts on the lines I wanted to, they just weren’t going in.”
Korda attributed part of her success to the fact that the first 36 holes have calmed the nerves she brought with her to Daytona Beach.
“The more you get into it, the more comfortable you get,” Korda said.
With two rounds left for Korda to settle in, odds are it will take more than a one-shot lead to stop her.