BELMONT, Mich. — The crowd was roaring Saturday afternoon after Nelly Korda sunk a five-foot eagle putt that put her in the solo lead at the LPGA Meijer Classic.
It was nothing but smiles for last year’s tournament winner. Korda was feeding off the crowd’s energy all afternoon and seemed to flourish in the electric atmosphere as the fans rallied behind her.
“I had a left-to-righter on 17 that I under-read, and I knew that my putt on 18, when I got up to it that it was going to be a left-to-righter and I just gave it a a little bit more than I thought,” Korda said. “Yeah, I trusted in my line and it just barely dropped in, but it was the perfect putt and it was great to hear the crowd go wild too, that was really cool.”
Preparing for the upcoming major next weekend, Korda relishes the moment to play against some of the most elite women in the world. She uses the competition at the Meijer Classic to feel out high-pressure situations like the ones she will face in the majors.
Now leading the pack, Korda sunk three birdies and two eagles and was able to edge out Jennifer Kupcho by one. Korda shot 6 under for the day, ending round three at 18-under par.
For the first time this tournament, Kupcho will not be leaving the course at the top of the leaderboard. Irrited and upset with 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 kind of just controlled what I could control, obviously I do want to win but I didn’t have it today, so was just trying to keep myself in it,” Kupcho said. “Obviously there was a lot of golf left starting today, so I kind of just tried to remind myself of that, that there is more golf tomorrow.”
Ending her bogey-free run in this tournament, Kupcho knows she has to play a much smarter game in the final round. She acknowledges the cutthroat competition and believes that anything can happen in golf, so she must be at her best mentally as well as physically.
“I think just going out there and playing my best I mean, she’s a really good player, the whole top of the leaderboard are all good players anything can happen, anything can happen on the back nine,” Kupcho said. “It’s really exciting. I think this is what we all come out here to play for, so it’ll definitely be a really exciting round tomorrow.”
Moving down second on the leaderboard, Kupcho finished the day 3-under and sits one behind Korda at 17-under for the tournament.
Brooke Henderson went on a birdie barrage tallying five total for the afternoon including three consecutive birdies on the back nine. She shot 5 under for the day and moved into third place, sitting at 15 under for the tournament.
The former two-time champion of the Meijer Classic, Henderson has a lot of confidence playing on this course, but she feels honored to be able to play in the final group with the world’s most elite golfers.
“To be in those final groups, it’s just a lot of fun like I said, that’s kind of what we play 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 make some birdies. But, I mean, Nelly plays very aggressively all the time and Jen is playing amazing and making a lot of birdies, so they’re not going to be easy to catch.”
Those final parings of the afternoon are stacked, with six of the top eight players in the world within five shots of the lead. Though win or lose, being able to play in the final groups has been exciting for Henderson, who is coming off her 11th career win last weekend. She has created a lot of great memories at the Meijer Classic and wants to focus on creating more and having fun playing the game she loves.
“It’s so much fun to be in the final groups on the weekend,” Henderson said. “That’s what we play for, and to be in contention and feeling the buzz from the crowd, that’s the best feeling.”