Nelly Korda closes with six consecutive birdies, posts record-tying 63 to lead KPMG Women’s PGA

JOHNS CREEK, Georgia ­– Credit the crowd, says Nelly Korda, for giving her the adrenaline needed to post a record-tying 9-under 63 on Friday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. On Tuesday, Korda said she felt like she got hit by a bus during her pro-am round.

The 22-year-old gives props to anyone who goes back-to-back, noting how much energy it takes to win on the LPGA. After claiming her second title of the year last week at the Meijer LPGA Classic – with a second-round 62 – Korda heads into the weekend at Atlanta Athletic Club’s Highlands Course with a one-shot lead over Lizette Salas at 11-under 133.

Korda, who is looking to break through with her first major title, became the fifth player in Women’s PGA history to shoot 63, joining Patty Sheehan (1984), Meg Mallon (1999), Kelly Shon (2017) and Sei Young Kim, who put up Sunday scorcher at Aronimink Golf Club last year.

“I guess I just blacked out out there,” said Korda of six consecutive birdies she made on the front nine (her back nine) for a 29. It’s worth noting that she opened her round with a bogey.

Nelly Korda reacts to her putt on the 8th green during the second round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship golf tournament at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Korda’s caddie, Jason McDede, said her second shot into the par-5 second hole was one of the top-10 shots he’s ever seen her hit. She hit 3-wood from 240 into the wind off a hanging lie to 10 feet and lipped out the putt for eagle.

She lipped out a second eagle putt on the drivable par-4 sixth, which she reached with a 7-wood.

“I’ve seen some shots that I’ve probably never seen out there,” said McDede.

He also credited a fun, relaxing group in Georgia Hall and Lydia Ko, “the best cheerleader on this tour.”

“Honestly, when you play with players like that,” said Nelly, “and you have a fun time, even the bad shots are not as bad.”

First-round leader Salas carded a second consecutive 67 and has yet to post bogey over the Highlands Course.

“It has not been stress-free,” said Salas. “With those water holes, we were talking about how if I had a Whoop on me how my heart rate would have just skyrocketed on, I think it was either 15, that long par-3 – late afternoon with the winds picking up, this course is not easy. That’s for sure.”

Celine Boutier certainly made it look breezy with a second-round 64 that put her in a share of third with Alena Sharp (68) and Cydney Clanton (67).

Seven-time major winner Inbee Park expects the PGA of America to present a more difficult task on Saturday.

“With tucked pins on this golf course, it can be very tough,” said Park, who is six shots back and in a share of seventh. “I think it can be a totally different golf course tomorrow. Hopefully, it just keeps drying out like this.

“The golf course is looking beautiful.”

Michelle Wie West shot 69 to make the cut on the number at 2 over, her first time playing the weekend at a major since the 2018 Women’s PGA at Kemper Lakes.

Jessica Korda, who is trying to clinch Team USA’s fourth and final spot, is tied for 19th at 3 under. She insists she’s not thinking about Tokyo.

“Not at all,” Korda told reporters after her round. “I don’t know why you guys keep asking me this question. It’s a major championship, so that’s what I’m concentrating on. Ask me Monday.”