Nelly Korda will head into the final round of the Tokyo Olympics women’s golf competition with a three-shot lead after carding a gritty two-under 69 on Friday. Korda’s swing in the third round wasn’t as pretty as the one she displayed on Thursday when she shot a 62, but the American managed to keep it together down the stretch to create some distance away from her rivals.
Korda closed out her third round with 12 consecutive pars to finish on top of the leaderboard with a 15-under-par total of 198. She calmly sank a tricky five-foot par putt on the 17th hole before executing to perfection a difficult up-and-down from behind the 18th green, landing her pitch shot to within four feet for yet another par.
Ashok in contention for the title, looks to give India its first gold in Tokyo Olympics
Korda will need to watch out for Aditi Ashok, who is currently in second place at 12-under after shooting a 68 in the third round. Ashok has emerged as a surprise contender in this event despite being one of the worst players in the 60-woman field in terms of driving distance. Ashok now has a grand opportunity to grab the unlikely win and give India its first gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
A bunch of contenders trails two shots further back at 10-under. Japan’s Mone Inami missed a short 7-footer for par on the final hole to shoot a 68, dropping into a four-way tie for third place alongside Emily Kristine Pedersen of Denmark (70), Lydia Ko of New Zealand (66), and Hanna Green of Australia (67).
Inami said in an interview afterward that she got words of encouragement from Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, who ended up without a medal here in Tokyo after losing in an epic seven-man playoff for the bronze. According to Inami, Matsuyama wished them good luck on the women’s side and wanted them to win the medal that the major champion failed to take home for Japan.
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Final round still uncertain, with bad weather in the forecast
While plenty of contenders were heading into the final round of the men’s competition, the women’s draw is turning out to be a two-horse race between Korda and Ashok. Korda appeared to be running away with the title in the early stages of the third round after making three birdies in her first six holes, stretching her lead to five shots at that point.
Korda failed to birdie each of her last 12 holes, though, giving Ashok an opening. The Indian golfer buried key birdie putts from 18 feet on the 15th hole and 15 feet on the 17th hole and recorded a nervy par on the last to remain within striking distance of Korda heading into the final round.
With a tropical storm set to arrive in Japan this weekend, Olympic golf officials have decided to start play as early as possible on Saturday to squeeze in 72 holes for the tournament. If bad weather prevents the fourth and final round from being completed, medals and rankings for the women’s event will be determined based on the existing 54-hole scores, which will favor Korda.
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