LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Danielle Kang managed to steal a few of the highlight from the Korda sisters on Thursday because the LPGA Tour opened its 71st season with a winners-only discipline on the Diamond Resorts Match of Champions.
Kang opened the yr with a bogey-free, 7-under 64 for a one-shot lead over Jessica Korda and Nelly Korda, together with defending champion Gaby Lopez, at 4 Seasons Golf and Sports activities Membership Orlando.
Kang is coming off a two-win season final yr that was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, profitable back-to-back in Ohio when the LPGA resumed after a five-month shutdown.
The spotlight for Kang, who birdied three of the 4 par-Three holes – together with a 30-foot chip-in on the ninth – got here on the 530-yard 13th. Going through a downhill lie with 241 yards to the entrance edge for her second shot, and needing to hit a tough draw, Kang took a chance with a 5-wood and pulled it off, establishing a two-putt birdie from 20 ft.
She joked later that her caddie, Oliver Brett, didn’t suppose she may hit the shot.
“It’s one of many top-20 pictures I’ve ever seen,” Brett mentioned. “She noticed it, I didn’t. That’s why she’s the participant.”
Kang, No. 5 within the ladies’s world rating, needed to quarantine twice in current weeks after being uncovered to COVID-19 and didn’t arrive into Orlando till late Monday night time. She examined unfavourable six occasions earlier than getting the go-ahead to play.
Taking part in alongside nation music singers Lee Brice and Cole Swindell, she was again to being her high-energy self, her closest brush to creating bogey solved with a 7-footer for par on the fourth gap.
“I feel my quick recreation was actually good immediately,” Kang mentioned. “I had a variety of really feel and contact across the greens.”
Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome had been at 66. Nineteen gamers within the 25-player discipline broke par.
A great portion of the day belonged to the Korda sisters. Jessica performed her first 9 holes in 7 below and was atop the leaderboard for a majority of a relaxed and sunny day. Nelly, the top-ranked participant within the discipline at No. four on this planet, caught her with a late run, dropping an extended putt for eagle at 17 after reaching the inexperienced with a 3-wood.
When Jessica reached her closing gap, she glanced over to a digital leaderboard to see her little sister had her by a shot. A lot for that. She ran in an 18-footer for birdie to quickly be a part of Nelly within the lead. The world of girls’s golf has waited for these sisters, two of the highest younger American stars, to battle head-to-head with a event on the road.
The sisters’ view? If it occurs, it occurs.
“We don’t actually give it some thought an excessive amount of,” mentioned Nelly Korda, who atoned for 3 early bogeys by taking part in her final seven holes in 5 below. “We each root on one another, however on the finish of the day we wish to beat one another, as nicely. It’s wholesome, however a very good competitiveness.”
The season-opening Diamond Resorts TOC options 25 LPGA champions paired with 53 athletes and celebrities. The $1.2 million LPGA portion (the celebrities compete for a separate $500,000 purse) historically is open to LPGA winners of the final two seasons. However the LPGA’s condensed 2020 schedule prompted the event so as to add winners from 2018.
Tennis participant Mardy Fish, a previous champion of the movie star division, took the opening spherical lead in a modified Stableford format with 41 factors, two higher than New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks.