Jessica Korda is a power player with an improving touch.
It’s making her a more consistently formidable threat.
With a 5-under-par 67 Friday, Korda moved atop the leaderboard at the Mediheal Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club outside San Francisco. At 9 under overall, she’s one shot ahead of Annie Park (66), a former NCAA individual champion at USC who made it into this week’s field as a Monday qualifier. Korda is two ahead of Charley Hull (68) and three ahead of Lydia Ko (70), who is looking to win this event for the third time.
Moriya Jutanugarn (68) is only four back in a bid to follow up her breakthrough victory at the Hugel-JTBC LA Open last week with another title.
Korda is looking for her second victory this season. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand in her first start of the year after a painful offseason surgery to correct her jaw’s alignment.
Full-field scores from the LPGA Mediheal Championship
Korda is a long hitter, ninth on tour in driving distance, who is becoming a dangerous putter. She’s first on tour this season in putts per greens in regulation, just two seasons after she ranked 65th in that category. With a dramatically improved short game, she leads the tour in scoring (68.85).
“Just happy to be in the position I’m in,” Korda said.
Park’s 66 was the low round of the tournament. She’s playing the Symetra Tour after losing her LPGA tour card struggling with a back injury last year.
“It was to a point where I couldn’t get out of my bed,” Park said. “But I learned a lot from it. I didn’t know how much I missed the sport. I love the sport . . . It was actually a huge turning point for me, a different perspective towards life and golf.”
Park is No. 290 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and needed to advance through a playoff in the Monday qualifier to get into this week’s field.
Ko birdied the last hole to put herself in better weekend position to claim her 15th LPGA title, her first in 21 months.
“I played really solid today, so it’s definitely nice to be able to put myself in better positions,” Ko said. “There’s still two long days to go, but I’m happy with the way I played the last couple days.”