Korda builds two-shot lead at ANA Inspiration

(Reuters) - Nelly Korda carded an impressive five-under 67 to build a two-stroke lead over Mirim Lee in the second round of the ANA Inspiration in Rancho Mirage, California on Friday as she strengthened her bid for a maiden major title.

Sep 11, 2020; Rancho Mirage, California, USA; Nelly Korda hits her tee shot on the 16th hole during the second round of the 2020 ANA Inspiration golf tournament at Mission Hills Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The 22-year-old American, who began the day one stroke ahead of Chun In-gee of South Korea and Madelene Sagstrom of Sweden, made five birdies and sank putts from 20 feet on the second and 25 feet on the third to remain bogey free across the round.

Korda, who fired a first-round 66 on Thursday, moved to 11-under 133 for the tournament, taking a 36-hole lead into the weekend of a major for the first time in her career.

“I did not know what I was doing on those two holes,” Korda said. “My caddie Jason just said, okay, take a deep breath right now, so I was happy those two went in.

“Golf is just about momentum, so you roll one in here and there and it just makes it a lot easier.

South Korean Lee, who began the round in 19th, made seven birdies and also remained bogey-free as she surged up the leaderboard to second.

American Lexi Thompson and Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen are tied for third, four shots behind Korda.

Thompson, who has just one top-10 finish this year, said re-uniting with childhood coach Jim McLean helped her find her groove at Mission Hills Country Club.

“I worked with Jim for a week. He knew my swing better than anybody growing up. I thought let’s just go back to old Lexi and see him. We changed a few things,” said Thompson, who won the tournament in 2014.

The ANA Inspiration is usually played in April but was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is being held without fans in attendance.

The conditions are less than ideal at Rancho Mirage, with temperatures expected to soar above 100°F (37.8°C) during the tournament.

Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Kim Coghill