Switching to the more difficult modified alternate-shot format, Korda and McCarthy — one of two teams in the field with an LPGA pro — were two over for the day after a double on 11 and in last place in the 12-team field. This came after the pair had opened with a 60 Friday in the scramble format.
Then something clicked on the 13th hole.
“We actually played really nice on the front, we just couldn’t make anything,” McCarthy told NBC Sports’ Steve Burkowski after the round. “We were, like, wait a minute. Golf is fun! We’re having fun. We’re supposed to be having fun. Well, we really had nothing to lose. Now, we really have nothing to lose.”
The duo went on to play the final six holes at Tiburon Golf Club in seven under to salvage at 67 and head into the final round at 17 under.
The team really caught fire on 16, when both players missed their approach at the par-3, but Korda demonstrated the short-game touch that got her back to the world’s top ranking last month. Shorted-sided left of the pin, she played the delicate chip to perfection, holing the shot for their fourth birdie in a row.
“To kind of make a birdie like that is really special,” Korda told Burkowski.
Then Korda put their second shot on the par-5 17th on the green and McCarthy, statistically one of the best putters on the PGA Tour, did the rest.
“I told Denny the egale putt that he made on 17, I’m going to dream about that shot for a long time,” Korda said.
Then Korda kept the streak going to cap it off on 18.
Having missed the green short and right, Korda’s chip never left the center of the cup and rammed the flagstick to fall for her and McCarthy’s sixth birdie of the day.
“I think we just kept a good attitude and we were just having fun,” McCarthy said. “Golf just got in the way.”
Korda and McCarthy will begin Sunday’s final round in a tie for 8th, but nine shots off the pace set by Charley Hoffman and Ryan Palmer at 26 under. They’ll have their work cut out for them, but the format switches to better-ball for Round 3 and could provide a little more volatility in the leaderboard.