Women’s world No. 1 golfer Nelly Korda yesterday had one hand on an Olympic gold medal to add to her maiden major this year after a third-round 69 gave her a three-shot cushion over a chasing pack led by India’s Aditi Ashok, while Taiwan’s bid for a medal suffered a setback as Hsu Wei-ling and Min Lee dropped down the leaderboard.
The American could not repeat her fireworks of Thursday’s round of 62, but is the woman they all have to catch in today’s final round, which is to be played earlier than originally scheduled at Kasumigaseki Country Club.
The leaders tee off today’s final round at 8:23am, hoping to complete the full 72 holes before a tropical storm arrives later in the day.
Should it be not possible to complete the final round on either Saturday or Sunday, then Korda, as the 54-hole leader at 15-under 198, would be awarded the gold medal.
Korda, who started the day with a four-stroke cushion, felt it was a day where she had to battle just to keep a lead.
“I didn’t have a really good back nine,” said Korda, who won her first major at the Women’s PGA Championship in June. “I was kind of spraying it all over the place, I had some testy par putts, but made all pars and I fought really hard to stay in it.”
Taiwan’s Hsu fell nine places to tied 20th on four-under after carding a 71, while Lee dropped 14 places to tied 25th on three-under after shooting a 72.
Ashok put women’s golf on the map in India five years ago when, at the age of 18 and fresh out of school, she opened with two 68s at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics to threaten the lead.
Now the 23-year-old, with her mom caddying this week, goes into the final round in the silver medal slot on 12-under, two shots clear of four players tied for third, headed by the Rio 2016 silver medalist Lydia Ko of New Zealand.
Ashok, already one of the shorter drivers on the LPGA Tour, said that she had lost more distance since suffering from COVID-19 in May and June.
“I do think it took a little bit of strength out of me,” said Ashok, the world No. 200. “I was never this short.”
In karate, Taiwan’s Wang Yi-ta yesterday finished fifth in the group elimination round of the men’s kata competition, ending his run at the Games.
Wang had an average score of 24.97 in two categories and was in fifth place, behind Ryo Kiyuna of Japan with 28.33, Ali Sofuoglu of Turkey with 27.14, Antonio Diaz Fernandez of Venezuela with 26.07 and Mattia Busato of Italy with 25.50.
In kata, only the top three athletes from each pool advance to the ranking round.
It is the first Games that karate has been included in the Olympics with two types of competition — kata (forms) and kumite (sparring).
In kata, athletes demonstrate a series of offensive and defensive movements, while in kumite two athletes seek to land blows on each other to win points.
Additional reporting by CNA
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