Jessica Korda birdied 10. Then 11. And 12. And 14. And 15. You get where this is going. Her celebrity playing partners in the Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions did. Like teammates to a pitcher during a no-hitter, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Fox News’ Bret Baier began keeping their distance.
“Yeah, they were walking so far behind me,” Korda said. “I was like, ‘Hey, guys.’ Larry started picking up. He’s like, ‘No, no, no, you’re good.’”
Yes, yes, yes. One-of-the-best-ever-rounds on-the-LPGA-Tour good.
Korda birdied 16, eagled 17 and birdied 18, too, during Saturday’s third round on her way to a nine-under 28 on the back nine at Four Season Golf & Sports Club Orlando — which appears to tie the lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in Tour history. She finished with an 11-under 60 — the sixth 60 in Tour history and one shot behind Annika Sorenstam’s 59 in 2001.
“On the back nine, I don’t know what happened,’ Korda said. “I just turned it up.”
After the eagle on 17, Korda finally knew what Fitzgerald and Baier did. “I looked at my scorecard and I was like, ‘Ooo, OK,’” she said. On 18, a par-3, a DJ plays music, and Korda wanted to hear it. “I kept the music on today because I heard just about everything yesterday, and so I was like, ‘No, we’re going to pump this up a little bit.’”
Korda hit her 6-iron to within 8 feet, then trickled in the closing birdie.
“I honestly wasn’t thinking about it,” Korda said. “Like I said, I was just next shot, the next shot, where is the pin. The weather kind of makes you concentrate on the next shot. You don’t have a whole lot of time to think about everything else.
“It was misting and then a little bit of wind, so we were trying to gauge how far it was going to fly. So there was a lot of kind of thinking behind the scenes before we hit the shot, so I didn’t really have a whole lot of the time to process what was happening.”
Korda also birdied 1 and 2. And parred 3 through 9. And the par-5 13th. “I can’t believe my only par on the back nine was a par-5. Oh, well,” she said.
She trails leader Danielle Kang by two heading into Sunday’s final round. And leads her younger sister, Nelly Korda, by four. Those three will play together. No celebrities. Just the world’s fourth-ranked player (Nelly Korda). The fifth-ranked player (Kang). And the player who now holds the lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in LPGA history.
“Yeah, it’s awesome,” Jessica Korda said. “I obviously love playing with the celebs because they keep it really loose and they’re so much fun and I love getting to know them as well. What an opportunity this is to get out of our golf bubble in a sense and reach out and mingle with people that love to play golf. Just a great experience.
“So we’ll see tomorrow. Be back to the three of us tomorrow.”