For a good portion of the back nine on Saturday, Nelly Korda was neck-and-neck with Lydia Ko at the LPGA Drive On Championship.
But then Korda, the hometown favorite in Bradenton, Florida this week, seized control of the tournament with an incredible finish.
She eagled the par-5 17th, then rolled in a 20-footer for birdie on 18 to cap it off.
“Just a confidence boost knowing I can climb up the leaderboard, contend, and stay in contention. I definitely didn’t have a great start today. I think I was one back after nine holes, and then kind of turned it around,” Korda said of her 3-under 68.
“But every single time I get to be in contention, I learn more about myself and how to handle these situations. Hopefully, I can put together a good round for the hometown [Sunday].”
On the 475-yard par-5 17th, Korda hit a 7-wood off the tee. After finding the fairway, Korda pulled out her 7-wood again but hit her second shot into the greenside bunker left of the green.
Then, Korda knocked it in from the sand for an eagle three, eliciting a massive roar from the Bradenton crowd.
That remarkable bunker shot vaulted her up to 12-under overall, extending her lead from one to three. She finished the day at 13-under, and now leads by four.
“It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish,” Korda said.
“Hopefully, I can lean that into tomorrow.”
Korda will play her final round alongside longtime friend Megan Khang, who carded an impressive 5-under 66 Saturday to get to 9-under. Like Korda, Khang finished beautifully, making four birdies over her last seven holes to get into the final group.
Funny enough, these two friends are staying in the same house this week.
After playing together on Thursday and Friday, they will spend even more time alongside each other on Sunday.
“I don’t know if she’ll talk to me tonight,” Khang said after her round.
Korda assured the press that would not be the case.
“Megan and I are not sick of each other yet,” Korda joked. “Maybe I’ll just leave her stuff outside the door today. Have her find a new place. I’m just kidding. I don’t know. We’ll see, I guess.”
Final round coverage of the LPGA Drive On Championship begins at 2 p.m. ET on Golf Channel. Korda, Khang, and Ayaka Furue of Japan—also 9-under—will tee off at 11:56 a.m. ET.