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Leona Maguire four shots off the lead at Pelican Championship

Nelly Korda and Lexi Thompson are joint-top of the leaderboard.

Leona Maguire (file photo)
Leona Maguire (file photo)
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

NELLY KORDA CLOSED with back-to-back birdies Saturday to cap a seven-under par 63 and join fellow American Lexi Thompson atop the leaderboard in the third round of the LPGA Pelican Championship.

Leona Maguire remains in contention despite slipping back back down the leaderboard. The Cavan golfer had been in a great position going into the weekend, leading the field after a blistering eight-under par 62 on Thursday. 

Maguire followed that with a 68 on Friday to sit one shot off the lead, but another 69 on Saturday – which included four birdies and two bogeys – left her four shots off Korda, and 12-under for the weekend.

Stephanie Meadow is tied for 41st after a third-round 66, improving on back-to-back rounds of 70 on Thursday and Friday.

Korda, who regained the world number one ranking from South Korean Ko Jin-young this week, said a better performance off the tee keyed her eight-birdie effort at Pelican Club in Belleair, Florida.

“I was hitting it better off the tee today and just gave myself some really good looks,” Korda said.

“I was stuffing it on the back nine. I missed probably a 10-footer on No. 10 and then I made 11, missed 12 — I was pretty close there — and then missed 13 as well.

“So I gave myself some really good looks, so at least going in the right direction,” added Korda, who started the day two shots off the lead shared by Thompson and Jennifer Kupcho.

Thompson, whose 11 LPGA titles include one major, had six birdies in her five-under par 65 — including a string of three straight at the fifth, sixth and seventh holes.

The leading duo were one stroke in front of Kupcho, who had five birdies and had grabbed a share of the lead when she picked up strokes at 16 and 17 but bogeyed the last for a four-under 66 for 195.

US veteran Christina Kim and South Korean Kim Sei-young were a further stroke back on 196, both carding 65s.

Korda said she was enjoying the Pelican layout, with generous fairways allowing for aggression off the tee.

“I feel like you can kind of bomb it, bomb away off the tee, and then give yourself a good look at birdie,” she said.

“You still have to hit it decently straight. Bunkers are in play and the pine straw is really thick. I’ve heard a couple people have almost lost their balls in the pine straw.”

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And she was looking forward to playing alongside Thompson, who is seeking her first win since 2019.

“I don’t think Lexi and I have ever played in a final group together,” Korda said. “She’s playing well. I heard she’s putting really well, too.

“Going to take a low one (to win),” she said.

© – AFP, 2021

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