Korda, Maguire surge into match play quarters

Golf

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Nelly Korda kept her hopes alive for a fourth consecutive LPGA Tour victory by shooting a 3-under 69 on Friday for a three-day total of 1-under par in the T-Mobile Match Play, putting her into the quarterfinals for the start of match play.

The top-ranked Korda, the sixth seed after three days of stroke play, will face third-seeded Angel Yin on Saturday morning.

Leona Maguire captured the top seed with a 69 for a 6-under total. She she will meet Moriya Jutanugarn, who won a four-way playoff for the final spot. No. 2 Minami Katsu will face No. 7 Narin An and No. 4 Rose Zhang will meet No. 5 Sei Young Kim.

The semifinals are Saturday afternoon, and the final is Sunday.

Of the final eight, five are ranked in the top 40. That includes 2020 LPGA Tour Player in Kim and 20-year-old phenom in Zhang, playing in her adopted hometown as she tries to win her second career title.

“I love match play,” said Zhang, who won two national championships at Stanford. “You get to play on like Solheim Cups, junior teams, amateur events, but you don’t really get to see that a lot out here. I’m really excited to go back into that. It’ll remind me of college days, just grinding it out against an opponent.”

The quarterfinalists overcame 1 1/2 days of dismal weather and a challenging Shadow Creek course that punishes errant shots. The cut line to make the match-play portion was 2 over.

“We thought that maybe 1 over to 2 over would get in, so wasn’t focused too much on a score with the tough conditions,” Korda said. “This golf course is already hard enough without any wind, without it dropping in temperature as well.”

Korda said, however, she liked playing in iffy conditions because it brings out her creative side. And the weather worked to her advantage in other ways as well.

After shooting 73 in each of the first two rounds, high wind Thursday afternoon brought the field back to her. Korda played in the morning that day when the weather conditions were much calmer, and no one with an afternoon tee time broke par.

The weather worsened Friday. In addition to wind gusts of 30 mph, rain hit the course in the afternoon and the high was 59 degrees, a 19-degree drop from the previous day’s top temperature.

Korda is attempting to become the first player to win four in a row since Lorena Ochoa in 2008.

She had four birdies on the front nine, including three straight before making the turn. Korda played the back side at 1 over.

Maguire began the day fifth, but moved to the top with her second 69 in a row, including birdies are on her final two holes. She also played well in this event last year when it was completely match play and didn’t include stroke play, finishing third.

“I love this golf course,” Maguire said. “I think it’s one of the best, if not the best, golf course we play all year. It’s an unbelievable test. It’s really a major championship golf course. You get punished if you hit bad shots and get rewarded if you hit good shots, and that’s exactly how golf should be.”

Four players competed for the final spot in a sudden-death playoff that began on the 10th hole. Hae Ran Ryu was eliminated on the first extra hole, and Jutanugarn knocked out Brooke Henderson and Yuka Saso on the 12th hole with an 18-foot birdie putt.

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