Jessica Korda shot a third-round 68 at the HUGEL AIR-PREMIA LA Open, and will enter Saturday’s finale with a one-shot lead over world no. 1 Jin Young Ko.
The 28-year-old Korda, who was paired with Ko in the final grouping, had briefly surrendered her lead after a bogey-par on Nos. 13 and 14, but the American closed her day out with back to back birdies en route to a three-day score of 15 under par.
“It was tough. Once we hit that mark of no movement for about 20 minutes, it was just really, really slow and it was hard to gain my momentum back,” said Korda.
“I was still hitting really good shots. I just didn’t have any opportunities. I was kind of always above the hole, and trying to nestle something down close to the hole is tough when you’re trying to make birdies.”
Lauding Ko’s competitive spirit and golf skills, Korda continued, “She played incredible golf today. At one point through 15, Ko only made three pars. I told her caddie that, but I wasn’t going to tell her that. I told her in scoring. She made some incredible putts today, hit some fantastic shots.
“I don’t even know how many birdies she made but there were a lot on her scorecard. I knew that she was going to come out and play great.
“That’s what she does being world No. 1. You wouldn’t expect anything less. I was just trying to play my own game, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do tomorrow.”
Ko, who finished her day with nine birdies, four bogeys, and five pars, posted a 66 to reach 15 under.
“I just want to follow Jessica, and she played really well today,” said Ko, who will once again be paired with Korda in the final round.
“I had lots of birdies and bogeys. Jess told me, ‘You got just three pars on the front nine,’ so I didn’t know that. I saw my scorecard after round. Oh, yeah, I got just three pars on the front nine.
“It was fun and I had a lot of chances for birdie, but I had a great round still.”
Lurking four back was Brooke Henderson (67) who carded three birdies on her final four holes to reach 12 under par, one clear of Angela Stanford (68) at 11 under.
Hannah Green and So Yeon Ryu shot matching 69s on Friday to sit T5 on 9-under par.
Tiffany Chan and Morgan Pressel shared the seventh spot on 8-under par, while Xiyu Lin and Jeongeun Lee6 were two further back on 6 under.
Defending champion Minjee Lee was T38 on 1 under.
2021 HUGEL AIR-PREMIA LA Open
Top-5 Leaders: Round 3
Pos-Player-To Par-(Rd 3)
1. Jessica Korda -16 (-3)
2. Jin Young Ko -15 (-5)
3. Brooke Henderson -12 (-4)
4. Angela Stanford -11 (-3)
5. Hannah Green -9 (-2)
5. So Yeon Ryu -9 (-2)
Material, including press releases, from the LPGA Tour Communications was used to compile this report.