BELMONT — The crowd roared Saturday afternoon after Nelly Korda landed a five-foot eagle putt that put her in the solo lead at the LPGA Meijer Classic for Simply Give.
You had to see it to believe it, an afternoon filled with drama and excitement. It was all smiles for the winner of last year’s tournament. Korda fed off the energy of the crowd all afternoon and seemed to thrive in the electric atmosphere as fans rallied behind her.
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As she lined up her last putt of the round, a mix of emotions ran through, but she had to block out the noise and emotion and let her intuition and skill take over.
“I had a putt left to right on 17 that I was under reading, and I knew my putt on 18, when I got up it was going to be left to right and I just gave it a little bit more than I thought,” Korda said. “Yeah, I trusted my line and it barely fell, but it was the perfect putt and it was great to hear the crowd go wild too, It was very cool.”
Preparing for the next major next weekend, Korda is relishing the moment of playing against some of the most elite women in the world. She uses the competition of the Meijer Classic to feel high pressure situations like the ones she will face in the majors.
Now leading the pack, Korda had three birdies and two eagles and was able to edge Jennifer Kupcho by one point. Korda shot 6 under for the day, finishing the third round at 18 under par.
For the first time in this tournament, Kupcho will not leave the course at the top of the standings. Angered and upset by her performance, she tries to put the day behind her and focus on coming out stronger and better in the final round.
“I mean, I think I was kind of in control of what I could control, obviously I want to win but I didn’t have it today so I was just trying to stay in the game,” Kupcho said. “Obviously there was a lot of golf left from today, so I just tried to remind myself of that, that there’s more golf tomorrow.”
Finishing her run bogey-free in this tournament, Kupcho knows she has to play a much smarter game in the final round. She recognizes the tough competition and believes anything can happen in golf, so she needs to be at her best mentally and physically.
“I think just going out there and playing my best, I mean she’s a very good player, the whole top of the table is made up of good players, anything can happen, anything can happen on the back nine “, said Kupcho. “It’s really exciting. I think that’s why we all come to play here, so it’s definitely going to be a really exciting round tomorrow.
Dropping to second in the standings, Kupcho finished the day at 3 under and sits one behind Korda at 17 under for the tournament.
Brooke Henderson completed a barrage of birdies totaling five for the afternoon, including three consecutive birdies on the back-9. She shot 5 under for the day and moved up to third place, sitting at 15 under for the tournament.
A two-time Meijer Classic champion, Henderson has a lot of confidence playing this course, but she feels honored to be able to play in the final group with the most elite golfers in the world.
“To be in those final groups, it’s just a lot of fun like I said, that’s kind of what we’re playing for is to get into those final groups and be in contention and feel that energy,” Henderson said. “Tomorrow I have nothing to lose. I can go out and be aggressive and try to birdie. But, I mean, Nelly plays really aggressive all the time and Jen plays amazing and birdies a lot. , so they won’t be easy to catch.
These final afternoon duels are stacked, with six of the world’s top eight players within five strokes of the lead. Win or lose, being able to play in the final groups has been exciting for Henderson, who is coming off his 11th career win this past weekend. She made a lot of great memories at the Meijer Classic and wants to focus on creating and having fun playing the game she loves.
“It’s so fun to be in the final groups this weekend,” Henderson said. “That’s what we’re playing for, and being in the running and feeling the crowd buzz is the best feeling.”