Meijer LPGA Classic 2022 Round 3 Notes
Course Setup: 36-36—72; 6,314 yards (Scoring Average: R1: 70.938; R2: 71.211; R3: 70.384)
Weather: Mostly sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-70s and winds from 5-10mph that gusted up to 15mph
NELLY KORDA, JENNIFER KUPCHO FINAL-ROUND SHOWDOWN ON TAP AT MEIJER LPGA CLASSIC
Defending champion Nelly Korda is leading the way at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give after firing a 6-under, 66 on Moving Day at Blythefield Country Club to post -18. The Rolex Rankings No. 2 got off to a slow start on Saturday, opening her round with six consecutive pars. But, a birdie on the 7th and an eagle on the 8th put some wind back in her sails as she made the turn. Korda went birdie-bogey-birdie on holes 12 through 14, burying an eagle putt on the last to put an exclamation point on what was a challenging day three in Belmont, Mich.
“I had a left-to-righter on 17 that I under-read, and I knew that my putt on 18, when I got up to it, that it was going to be a left-to-righter and I just gave it a little bit more than I thought,” said Korda. “I trusted in my line and it just barely dropped in, but it was a perfect putt and it was great to hear the crowd go wild, too. That was really cool.”
This is Korda’s 14th time holding the lead or co-lead through 54 holes and in the previous 13 instances, she’s gone on to win 7 times, most recently at the 2021 Pelican Women’s Championship. Considering this is only Korda’s second competitive start since she was diagnosed with a blood clot in her left arm back in March, a victory this week would be especially sweet. But Korda is grateful for the opportunity to compete and is looking forward to another tough test as she battles it out against five players in the Rolex Rankings top 10 who will be chasing her down on Sunday at Blythefield.
“So far, I’ve played pretty well and hopefully I can continue,” said Korda who hit 9 of 13 fairways and 15 of 18 greens in round three. “There are still 18 more holes, still a lot more golf to be played. I’m just happy to be out there playing again. This tournament actually always attracts a lot of the top girls on any type of ranking, so it’s cool. Obviously, anything can happen and there are a lot of girls that are close to me and Jennifer, so hopefully, I can put together a good round tomorrow and see how it goes.”
Chevron champion Jennifer Kupcho sits in solo second and one shot back of Korda at -17 after a third-round 69. It was a tough ball-striking day for the 25-year-old – she hit just 6 fairways on Saturday – but she met her goal of shooting 3 under and was proud of her fight when things weren’t going her way. Despite a grueling Saturday, Kupcho is well within reach of that second career victory and knows that it’s still anyone’s tournament with 18 holes left to play.
“I think I kind of just controlled what I could control. Obviously, I do want to win but I didn’t have it today, so was just trying to keep myself in it. There was a lot of golf left starting today, so I kind of just tried to remind myself of that and that there is more golf tomorrow,” said Kupcho. “(Nelly is) a really good player. The whole top of the leaderboard are all good players. Anything can happen. Anything can happen on the back nine.”
Two-time Meijer LPGA Classic champion Brooke Henderson is in solo third at -15 with 11-time LPGA Tour winner Lexi Thompson sitting in fourth at -14. Thompson is looking for her first win since the 2019 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented Acer but isn’t looking at the leaderboard going into Championship Sunday.
“I honestly haven’t looked at a leaderboard in a while out on the golf course,” said Thompson. “I just want to go out there and play my own game, control my emotions, and that’s all I can do. I don’t want to focus on anybody else. I know they’re going to play great so I have to play great with them.”
Major champions Lydia Ko and Minjee Lee are in a tie for fifth at -13, and Rolex First-Time winner Atthaya Thitikul and 2020 Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio champion Madelene Sagstrom are T7 at 12 under. Five players sit at -11 in a tie for ninth, including 2021 Evian champion Anna Nordqvist and Ireland’s Leona Maguire.
WITH A WIN…
Nelly Korda would earn her first victory since the 2021 Pelican Women’s Championship; it would be her eighth LPGA Tour win
Korda would be the fourth different American to win this season, joining Danielle Kang, Jennifer Kupcho and Marina Alex
Korda would move to 44th on the Career Money List, jumping ahead of Dottie Pepper, Michelle Wie West, Lizette Salas and Jeong Jang
Jennifer Kupcho would earn her second career victory as well as her second win of the 2022 season; she became a Rolex-First Time winner at The Chevron Championship earlier this year
Kupcho would join Minjee Lee as the only other player with multiple wins this season
Kupcho’s season earnings would surpass $1 million for the first time in her career
Brooke Henderson would be the first player to win back-to-back tournaments since Jin Young Ko won last year’s Cognizant Founders Cup and BMW Ladies Championship
Henderson would earn her third Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give title and 12th career title
Lexi Thompson would get her first win since the 2019 ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer
Thompson would join Brooke Henderson as two-time winners of the Meijer LPGA Classic
Lydia Ko would card her second win of the season; 2022 would mark her first season with multiple wins since 2016
Ko would earn her 18th career victory, joining Hollis Stacy and Meg Mallon at 24th most of all-time
Minjee Lee’s career earnings would total $11,404,057, moving her from 18th to 16th on the Career Money List and ahead of Sei Young Kim and Anna Nordqvist
Atthaya Thitikul would become the fifth-youngest player to earn $1 million in career earnings
Madelene Sagstrom would win for the first time since the 2020 Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio, and would be the eighth player from Sweden to earn at least two wins on the LPGA Tour
ANOTHER SOLID ROUND PUTS LEXI THOMPSON IN POSITION BEFORE CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY
Lexi Thompsonposted her second bogey-free round of the week on Saturday at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give. With less wind to deal with than her previous rounds, the major champion played another consistent round of golf to finish -4 on the day and -14 total, just four strokes out of the lead. Thompson sits in solo fourth ahead of championship Sunday and plans to attack the golf course just as she has the past three rounds.
“I play this golf course pretty aggressively. Hit a lot of drivers, take a lot of corners on. So, I’m probably not going to play it any more aggressively (tomorrow), except maybe fire at a few more pins,” she said.
Thompson ranks eighth on the LPGA Tour this season in average driving distance, making Blythefield Country Club and its five par 5s a great place to be aggressive. Ahead of the week in Michigan, Thompson was leading the Tour in greens in regulation (76.1%), and though she’s missed a handful so far this week, her scrambling has served her well through three rounds.
“(Scrambling’s) very important here,” Thompson said. “It’s unfortunate, but you have to scramble because you’re not going to have your a-game ball striking-wise each and every shot. It’s a matter of just staying patient and going into the next shot with a positive attitude knowing you can pull it off, get your par and get off the hole.”
With all aspects of her game coming together, as they have been all season, Thompson is primed to earn her second Meijer LPGA Classic title and notch her first Tour win since 2019. The 11-time LPGA champion has come in second twice in 2022, at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony and the Cognizant Founders Cup, but she doesn’t focus too much on when her next win will come. She’s more focused on having fun, enjoying the large gallery of supporters and playing golf “freely.”
“Honestly, I don’t think about the stretch of whatever that I haven’t won,” she said. “It really doesn’t matter to me. I’m going into every event wanting to win. It really gets you nowhere when you put expectations on yourself. I hope that a lot of people come out and support and I just go out, play a nice, free, relaxed round, and have a good time. I try my best. That’s all I can do.”
LYDIA KO MAKES BIG JUMP ON DAY THREE, ACHIEVING HER DAILY GOAL AND A SPOT NEAR THE TOP OF THE LEADERBOARD
Before Saturday’s round at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give, Lydia Ko set a personal goal to shoot -5 on Moving Day at Blythefield Country Club. She ultimately met that goal, carding a bogey-free, 7-under 65 to put herself in a tie for fifth heading into Sunday. After a first-round 70 and second-round 68, Ko wanted to make a big jump up the leaderboard on day three and, after seeing low morning scores posted before her afternoon tee time, she knew she could do it.
“Especially when there are a lot of low scores, you’re trying to do your best out there and at the same time be aggressive,” she said. “You see that there is like 6-under, 7-under, 5-under, 8-under being posted, and you kind of want to keep up with the pace.”
Ko’s ball-striking was key to her Saturday success. She hit 11 of 13 fairways and 18 of 18 greens and is currently ranked No. 1 in the field in birdies (17) and greens in regulation (49 of 54). Yet, she didn’t set herself apart from the competition during the first two days – she began the third round six shots out of the lead – until she carded her first bogey-free round of the week.
“I think I made some careless mistakes the first couple of rounds. I felt like some of the bogeys I made were probably not necessary,” Ko said. “I think over the last few weeks I felt like I made some silly mistakes, so I’m trying to do a better job with that. Not get too stressed out about it and just be committed. That’s such an important mindset personally for me to be at, even if the results aren’t there.”
A two-time major champion, Ko notched her 17th career victory this year at the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. This season, Ko has five top-10 finishes, has made the cut in all eleven starts and has not finished outside of the top 30. In other words, it’s been a great stretch of golf for the 25-year-old, even if she sometimes puts pressure on herself to perform. But for now, she’s just trying to enjoy the game alongside her fellow competitors, most recently Hannah Green, who she was paired with on Saturday.
“We’ve played together in six competitive rounds in the nine that she’s last played, so she might be sick and tired of me,” she laughed. “No, I really enjoy it. It’s always nice to play with a player that you get along with, and she’s so good that I feel like I learn from her as well.”
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Nelly Korda (67-65-66)
- She hit 9 of 13 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 30 putts
- This is Korda’s 14th time holding the lead or co-lead through 54 holes and in the previous 13 instances, she’s gone on to win 7 times
- Korda is tied for first in the Meijer LPGA Classic field in Eagles (3) and is ranked first in average driving distance
- This is Korda’s fifth season on the LPGA Tour; she has seven career victories, including a major title at the 2021 KPMG Women’s PGA Championship
- This is Korda’s fourth appearance in the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give; she won the event in 2021 and has two additional top-10 finishes, a T9 in 2018 and a T7 in 2019
- Gold medalist at the 2020 Summer Olympics
- Member of the 2019 and 2021 U.S. Solheim Cup Teams
- With sister Jessica, is one of three sister duos to both win on the LPGA Tour, along with the Jutanugarns and the Sorenstams
- Her parents, Petr Korda and Regina Rajchrtová, were international tennis stars, with her father winning the Australian Open and her mother representing the former Czechoslovakia at the 1988 Summer Olympics
- Her younger brother, Sebastian Korda, is 41st in the ATP Tennis rankings
Rolex Rankings No. 16, Jennifer Kupcho (63-67-69)
- She hit 6 of 13 fairways and 16 of 18 greens, with 33 putts
- Her three-day total of 199 is the second-lowest 54-hole score of her career; the lowest is 195 which she shot at the 2021 Pelican Women’s Championship
- This is Kupcho’s third appearance in the Meijer LPGA Classic; she tied for 10th in 2021 and tied for 23rd in 2019
- Kupcho has missed two cuts in 12 starts this season; she became a Rolex First-Time winner at The Chevron Championship and has one additional top 10, a tie for sixth at the Honda LPGA Thailand
- Kupcho’s first-round 63 is her career-low round; she shot her previous career-low 64 this season at The Chevron Championship and went on to win
- Member of Team USA at the 2021 Solheim Cup
- Finished T39 at the 2011 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament to first earn LPGA Tour status
- Won the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur in 2019
- Graduated from Wake Forest University in 2019 with a degree in Communications
- 2018 NCAA Division I Individual National Champion, and was the first wire-to-wire NCAA champion since 2002
- 2018 NCAA Player of the Year
- Played on the victorious 2018 U.S. Curtis Cup, Women’s World Amateur and Palmer Cup teams
Rolex Rankings No. 8, Brooke Henderson (68-66-67)
- She hit 7 of 13 fairways and 13 of 18 greens with 26 putts
- This is her fifth appearance in the Meijer LPGA Classic; she has won the event twice, in 2019 and 2017
- Henderson has made the cut in eight of eleven events this season; her best finish of the season is her playoff victory at the ShopRIte LPGA Classic
- Henderson has captured at least one win in seven of the last eight seasons; she did not win in 2020
- She is the winningest Canadian golfer in history, a feat she achieved with her ninth LPGA Tour victory at the 2019 Meijer Classic for Simply Give
- Her sister Brittany played on the Symetra Tour in 2015 and now serves as her caddie
- She represented Canada in the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and finished T29
Rolex Rankings No. 7, Lexi Thompson (65-69-68)
- She hit 7 of 13 fairways and 12 of 18 greens with 27 putts
- Thompson recorded two sand saves throughout the tournament and is tied for first in the field in that category
- This is her 11th season on the LPGA Tour; she has 11 career victories, including a major championship title from the 2014 Chevron Championship
- This is Thompson’s eighth event of the 2022 season; she has recorded four top-10 finishes, including season-best runner-up performances at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Crown Colony and the Cognizant Founders Cup
- This is her eighth appearance in the Meijer LPGA Classic; she won the event in 2015
- Thompson is a five-time member of the U.S. Solheim Cup team (2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021)
- She is a three-time member of the U.S. team at International Crown (2014, 2016, 2018)
- Thompson is a two-time Olympian representing the United States; she finished T19 at the 2016 Rio Olympics and 33 at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics
- In 2017, Thompson earned the Vare Trophy
- She was granted LPGA Tour Membership for 2012 by former Commissioner Mike Whan to first earn Tour status after turning professional in 2010
- As an amateur, she played in 21 Tour events from 2007-2011
- Thompson won the 2008 U.S. Girls Jr. Championship, and was the No. 1 ranked amateur in 2009
- Her brothers Nicholas and Curtis have played on the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour
TOURNAMENT VIDEOS AND PHOTOS
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TV TIMES (all times Eastern on Golf Channel)
Sunday, June 19 – 3-6 p.m.
Sunday, June 19 – 3-6 p.m.
TOURNAMENT SCORING RECORDS
18 holes: 61: Lee-Anne Pace, third round, 2017
36 holes:128: Brooke Henderson, 2019
54 holes:196: Lexi Thompson, 2017; Nelly Korda, 2021
72 holes: 263: Brooke Henderson, 2017; Nelly Korda, 2021