American teenager Jessica Korda moved into position for a two-sport, father-daughter Australian double, shooting an even-par 73 in windy conditions Saturday to take the Women’s Australian Open lead at Royal Melbourne.
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Korda, the 18-year-old daughter of 1998 Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda, had a 4-under 215 total in the LPGA Tour opener on the historic club’s difficult Composite Course, the 2011 Presidents Cup venue that is hosting a women’s professional event for the first time. She opened with rounds of 72 and 70.
”It would mean a lot,” Korda said about following her father with a Melbourne victory. ”My Dad was world No. 2. I told him I want to beat that. It would be a great accomplishment, an awesome thing.”
So Yeon Ryu, the U.S. Women’s Open champion who took a one-stroke lead into the third round, was a stroke back along with fellow South Korean player Hee Kyung Seo and Australia’s Nikki Campbell. Ryu shot a 76, Seo had a 75, and Campbell a 70.
”Normally my play style is very aggressive, but this course, it’s definitely not,” Ryu said. ”Always my plan is just par.”
Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the winner the last two years at Commonwealth Golf Club, topped the group at 2 under after a 71. The Taiwanese star was still smarting from a three-hole stretch Friday in her second-round 76 when she dropped six strokes with a quadruple-bogey 8 and two bogeys.
”I think I’m in very good position, especially with a course like this,” Tseng said. ”So, tomorrow I’ll play more aggressive and try to get as many birdies as I can.”
She knows that could get her in trouble.
”Today, I just tried to slow down a bit and be patient all the time because these greens, it’s hard to make birdie and easy to make bogey,” Tseng said. ”So, you also just have to be patient.”
Canada’s Lorie Kane and American Katie Futcher also were 2 under. The 47-year-old Kane had a 72, and Futcher shot a 71.
Korda birdied Nos. 7, 9 and 10 – all par 4s – for a share of the lead with Ryu at 6 under, but dropped strokes with bogeys on the par-4 13th and par-5 17th.
”As things started going on and on, I started feeling shaky as the wind gusted toward the end of the day,” she said. ”I finished pretty strong and kept at level par.”
Last year as a rookie, she made eight cuts in 15 LPGA Tour starts.
”It was a learning curve,” Korda said. ”I was finishing up high school, so it was more of a juggling act than anything. I was not grown up enough. I had to realize a lot of things. It was tough. It was not an easy conversation to have with myself and with my team. I had to grow up a lot last year.”
Ryu birdied the second and third holes to reach 8 under, but played her final 14 holes in 5 over with six bogeys and a birdie. She bogeyed the par-4 18th to drop out of a tie for the lead.
”I think today the weather, there was a strong breeze, so I think my body is getting too tight,” Ryu said. ”I think maybe tomorrow I want to relax my body a little more and I need a little more practice putting. I think tomorrow is the same conditions, so I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Campbell had the best round of the day with her 70. She had five birdies and two bogeys.
”Every player would want to win her national championship in any sport,” said Campbell, a regular on the Japan LPGA. ”Being in a position where I have a chance is more than I could have asked for.”
Only nine players were under par after three rounds, with long-hitting American Brittany Lincicome and Paraguay’s Julieta Granada three strokes back at 1 under. Lincicome had a 73, and Granada shot a 76.
A day after shooting a tournament-best 66, Seo had three birdies, three bogeys and double bogey in her 75.
”It’s one of the hardest courses I have ever played,” said Seo, a playoff loser to Ryu last year in the U.S. Women’s Open. ”It’s probably in the top five or the top three and sometimes the breeze is quite crazy. Also the greens are firm and fast, plus the undulations. Most of the players struggled at times, but that’s golf.”
American Stacy Lewis, 4 under after opening rounds of 69 and 73, was even par after a 77.
Fourteen-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko was 3 over after a 72, one of only nine sub-par rounds Saturday. She won the New South Wales Open two weeks ago to become the youngest winner of a sanctioned professional tour event.
Australian star Karrie Webb, a four-time winner in the event, was 6 over after her third straight 75.
Second-ranked Suzann Pettersen also was 6 over after a 74. The Norwegian star opened with an 80 – the second-highest score of her LPGA Tour career – and had a 71 on Friday to make the cut.
The LPGA Tour is sanctioning the national championship for the first time, teaming with Australian Ladies Professional Golf and the Ladies European Tour.