‘I just blacked out’: Nelly Korda dazzles in Round 2 of KPMG Women’s PGA

Nelly Korda reads putt

Nelly Korda sent roars across Atlanta Athletic Club on Friday afternoon as she fired a record-tying 63 in Round 2.

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Nelly Korda decided to shift her mindset two weeks ago.

She was coming off a missed cut at the U.S. Women’s Open and put far too much pressure one herself to play well. Then, she saw an interview with Bubba Watson from the U.S. Open.

“I was listening to Bubba talk yesterday, and I’m like, ‘You know, it makes so much sense what they say,’” Korda told reporters at the Meijer LPGA Classic. “I just have to realize it’s golf. There is going to be a lot more tournaments ahead of me and I’m going to miss a lot more cuts, I bet you that. But as long as I’m learning from each situation, I think that’s the most important.”

Korda used that new mindset on her way to an impressive win last week in Michigan, and it appears she brought that same psyche to the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as well.

nelly korda putts
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By: Zephyr Melton

The five-time LPGA winner opened the tournament with a two-under 70 in Round 1, but it was her second round that sent roars echoing through Atlanta Athletic Club. Korda fired a nine-under 63 in Round 2 — tying the championship record — to get to 11 under and take the 36-hole lead heading into the weekend.

“I guess I just blacked out out there,” Korda laughed after her round.

Her 63 comes on the heels os Sei Young Kim accomplishing the feat last fall at Aronimink Golf Club as she claimed her first major title by five shots.

Korda’s round was highlighted by a Houdini-like escape on No. 8 (her 17th hole of the day) which she followed with a long birdie putt that she poured in the center of the cup.

After pushing her drive well right of the fairway, her ball settled on the pine straw beneath the trees. She had an opportunity to keep the ball beneath any wayward branches, but her ball was settled on above a tree root hidden by the foliage.

Undeterred by the prospect of a smashing the root, Korda blasted the ball onto the front of the green to set up the birdie try.

“Thankfully I hit just the top of it,” she said. “It’s so scary when you have those types of shots. To drain a long putt was nice, too.”

The birdie was one of six (!) in a row for Korda to close out the round. She started the birdie barrage at the par-3 4th and continued her loop around the far reaches of the course with only circles on the card.

Even more remarkable is that the round started with a bogey on No. 10 shortly after her 1:22 p.m. tee time. But just as she set out to do, she didn’t let the unsteady start deter her confidence.

“[I] just shook it off,” Korda said. “[I] just told myself I’m going to make bogeys this week.”

After the opening stumble, there were no more bogeys on the card for the 22-year-old. She tacked on three birdies on the front nine to turn in two under, and added another at the par-5 2nd.

The exemplary round follows Korda’s third-round 62 at last week’s Meijer LPGA Classic. She is now 26 under over her last 72 holes, carding 31 birdies and an eagle over that time.

“It’s nice when you’re on top of your game and everything is going well,” she said.

Now it’s on to the weekend as Korda searches to fill the biggest hole in her otherwise-impressive resume — winning a major championship. A victory would also represent the first time in her career that she’s won in back-to-back weeks, which she knows is a difficult mountain to summit.

“I’ve always said, ‘Props to the people that have won back-to-back,” she said. “Because it’s very hard.”

Zephyr Melton

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with the Texas Golf Association, Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and covers amateur and women’s golf. He can be reached at zephyr_melton@golf.com.