By THE NATION
Korda made four birdies coming in on Saturday at the Miramar Golf Country Club to take the lead over 2018 Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA runner-up Minjee Lee and European Solheim Cup star Caroline Masson at -15 and -14, respectively.
“I think I've gone over 36 holes without a bogey, which is something that I always strive to do,” Korda said after her third-round 65. “I don't remember the last time I did that. I don't think I've ever actually done that. But I'm just playing really solid golf, and there's still so much golf to be played.”
Korda has held led/co-led through 54-holes in both of her two career LPGA wins, but she said she’s not sleeping on any lead comfortably with those close behind her.
“With the two girls I'm going to be playing with tomorrow, Minjee [Lee] and Caroline [Masson], they are going to for sure shoot some low scores,” Korda said. “So it's going to take a low one to stay consistent to win tomorrow, so hopefully I can get that finish. But it would be great to win again here in Taiwan. Still have 18 holes, so I'm not going to get ahead of myself.”
Lee might be the steadiest player in the field in Chinese Taipei, with her last bogey coming 47 holes ago on the seventh hole of her first round as she looks for her second win of the 2019 LPGA Tour season.
Masson, on the other hand, has hit 48 of 54 greens in regulation this week and said she’s hoping the tougher weather being forecasted comes to fruition on Sunday.
“I feel like if I can just keep up my long game and just do that tomorrow, I heard maybe a little rain, a little wind; so the tougher the conditions, I think more of an advantage you have when your long game is good. I just have to keep doing that,” Masson said after her third-round 66.
54-hole leader Mi Jung Hur had an up and down day hitting eight of 14 fairways with 30 putts en route to a third-round 71 to fall into solo fourth at 13-under par. Major champion In-Kyung Kim rounds out the top five players at -12.
LEE LIKES HER POSITION
Aussie Minjee Lee enters the final-round of the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA trailing Nelly Korda by three strokes. It’s a bit of déjà vu for Lee, who had a taste of trying to chase down a Nelly Korda lead at this event in 2018. Lee entered the final round in 2018 four shots behind Korda before closing with a 66 to finish as the runner-up just two strokes shy of Korda who closed with a 68.
Memories from 2018 in Chinese Taipei aside, Lee is comfortable coming from behind as two of her five LPGA wins have come when she’s been chasing the leader.
“I think it's probably an easier position to be in just because you can -- I guess you have a little bit more motivation -- I don't know but obviously maybe Nelly will have motivation to win,” Lee said. “I think it's just a little bit easier to be in the mind-set of chasing than trying to like lead. So yeah, I mean, I've been in both positions before, so it's nothing new to me. I'll just take it as it comes.”
As for Lee’s final-round strategy this year, she said it will depend on the weather conditions and the pin placements.
“I think pick your battles out there,” Lee said. “Obviously if there's water or hazard or wind, you're going to play more conservatively than like too aggressively. I think the LPGA does a good job of like kind of balancing out the weather and the pin positions, so hopefully they will put pins in spots that are fair but tricky at the same time. So yeah, hopefully it will be a fun day.”
KORDA’S CADDIE CONNECTION
Nelly Korda’s caddie Jason McDede has been on her bag since the beginning of the 2018 LPGA season, and he’s been by her side for both of her wins on Tour. Sunday might have a different feeling for the duo, as Jason is engaged to be married to Korda’s playing partner Caroline Masson. Caroline and Jason are due to be married in 2020, but Sunday will be the first time they’ve gone head-to-head vying for an LPGA title.
Korda joked about the unique situation: “I'm going to tell him that at the end of the day, I'm signing his paycheck -- no, I'm kidding. We are all good friends. It's going to be fun.”
Masson said they always knew this could happen and is looking forward to the experience.
“It's a little bit strange maybe but at the same time, it's where we both want to be. It's what we work hard for and what we kind of support each other to be able to do. You know, it's just about embracing it. I know obviously he's Nelly's caddie and he's rooting for her and he's also rooting a little bit for me, so I think that's fun.
“Yeah, I think we are just going to go out there. Solheim was even worse; we played against each other, so we're kind of used to it now. I think we'll be okay.”
WITH A WIN…
With her third career LPGA win and second of the 2019 season, Nelly Korda would become the first American with multiple wins in 2019
Korda would become the third player this season to successfully defend a 2018 title, joining Brooke Henderson at the LOTTE Championship and Danielle Kang at the BMW Ladies Championship
Nelly Korda or Minjee Lee would become the seventh player to have multiple wins this season, joining Hannah Green (2), Brooke Henderson (2), Mi Jung Hur (2), Jin Young Ko (4), Sei Young Kim (2) and Sung Hyun Park (2)
Caroline Masson would earn her second career LPGA title, and Germany would be the 10th country to have a winner in 2019
Masson would become the first player from Germany with more than one LPGA win; Sandra Gal and Tina Fischer each have one LPGA win