Nelly Korda reacts after missing a putt on the 16th green
Nelly Korda reacts after missing a putt on the 16th green Image Credit: AP

Nelly Korda shot a three-under-par 69 through some nasty weather on Saturday to maintain a one-stroke advantage at the LPGA’s Tournament of Champions at Orlando.

Fighting through cold temperatures paired with wind and rain at the Lake Nona Golf and Country Club, the world’s No. 1 ranked golfer recorded four birdies with an average drive distance of 250 yards. She suffered one bogey.

“The conditions were really tough,” Korda said. “I mean, it was cold, rainy, and got a little windy, so in all I’m very happy with three-under.” Korda, who sits a 13-under 203 headed into the final round on Sunday, is just ahead of fellow American Danielle Kang and Mexico’s Gaby Lopez, who each recorded matching 69s to maintain a tie at second place.

“Yeah, I’ve always said like the more experience you get the I guess more comfortable you’ll be,” Korda said. “I don’t think anyone is ever really comfortable sleeping on a lead in a sense, but I’m just going to see how I can grow from this opportunity, try to take my best golf into tomorrow, and see how it goes.

“I mean, there is still 18 more holes left; you don’t know what the conditions are going to be like. The leaderboard is stacked and the girls are playing well. Whatever happens, happens tomorrow. I try not to think about it too much.”

Kang avoided any bad holes by shooting at least par the entire way. Lopez did the same, and both golfers also had three birdies.

Afterward, Lopez admitted to leaning into her experience at this event, which she won in 2020.

“I mean, honestly being able to recall those moments, lots of pressure and tension and just tell myself, Hey, you’ve done this,” Lopez said. “Don’t doubt your instinct. Just be the tournament, be aggressive when you have, be smart, be patient. Today I stayed patient for, I don’t know, maybe 10 holes in a row, and it was very hard for me because I was hitting it very close.”

Canada’s Brooke Henderson was one of three golfers to make up ground on the leader Saturday, firing a 4-under 68 to get to two strokes back of the leader at 11-under for the tournament.

Yuka Saso of Japan and Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand also made up ground with matching 68s. Saso sits in fifth place at 10-under, while Anannarukarn is in ninth at 7-under.

“Obviously not much roll from the tee,” Saso said. “It’s wet today, so from the second shot was easy to go for the flag because I know it’s going to stop.

Yeah, that was pretty much it.” Celine Boutier of France is four shots back of the lead after shooting a third-day 70. On her heels are South Korea’s Inbee Park (70) and Korda’s sister, Jessica Korda (72), tied for seventh at eight-under.

Finland’s Matilda Castren (71) and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (71) are tied for 10th at six-under, seven shots behind the leader.

The event format pairs players with 50 celebrities and amateurs who are competing in a Modified Stableford scoring format. The celebrity competition features such notables as former NBA star Vince Carter, former NFL standout Larry Fitzgerald and entertainer Larry the Cable Guy.

Former pro Annika Sorenstam leads that group with a three-day score of 104, while former MLB pitcher Derek Lowe is in second with a 102.