Nelly Korda leads LPGA as Sorenstam falls to bottom of pack


ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – Nelly Korda took the lead in the Gainbridge LPGA on Saturday with a 4 under 68 that left her in a position to claim back-to-back wins for the Korda family to start the season.

Annika Sorenstam sank to the bottom.

Korda, whose older sister Jessica won the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions last month to start the new LPGA Tour season, lost just one stroke on a blustery day at Lake Nona to lead by a sur Patty Tavatanakit.

Sorenstam, playing for the first time in more over 12 years after retiring, had no expectations and no excuses. She continued to get in the wrong places around the green and finished with a 79. That put her in last place by four shots, 22 shots behind Korda.

The 50-year-old Swede was only making an appearance once because the tournament was brought to her home course, and she was happy enough to make the count down.

“We go out of our way for every shot,” she said. “It just wasn’t meant to be today. Another day tomorrow. I had two bonus days this week so that’s a good thing. “

Korda was 13 under 203, a shot past Tavatanakit, the burgeoning Thai star who only needed half a dozen starts on the Symetra Tour to earn her LPGA card when she left UCLA.

Tavatanakit finished with four birdies on her last five holes, including the last three, for a 66. She will be in the last group on Sunday with Korda and Angel Yin, who were 65 and three strokes behind.

Lydia Ko, the 36-hole point guard trying to win for the first time in nearly three years, was also three shots behind. Ko fell back with a double bogey on the 12th hole, then a bogey on the 18th.

Also at 10 under 203, Jin Young Ko, the No. 1 player in women’s golf, shot a 66 to get into position.

All will pursue Korda.

“Anytime you can get ahead of the field before Sunday it’s an advantage,” Korda said. “There are some good players out there so it will take good golf to win.”

Tavatanakit said she didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the standings. When she did, she wasn’t quite sure where she stood as she constantly missed the front page of leaders.

“I was like, ‘Oh, I’m probably still up there.’ So I didn’t think too much about it for 15 years. I saw that I was back, ”Tavatanakit said. “I was like, ‘OK, let’s see what I can do here.’ I’m not gonna lie, going down the stretch those putts were a little shaky.

But she did, and she is in a prime position for her first win on the LPGA Tour.

For Sorenstam, it will be a ceremonial stroll past family and friends on a home course where his neighbors for years were more likely to see her at Easter brunch or on the pickleball courts than on the golf course.

His troubles started with a bogey on the 15 par-5, starting five bogeys in an eight-hole stretch.

“Normally I hit the ball straight, and today was anything but straight,” Sorenstam said. “Maybe I need to tweak my swing a bit – I’m not sure what to tweak right now. We have to understand this. But I need to hit straight for a chance to shoot below par again. Because it would be fun to leave it on a high note.

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