BRADENTON, Fla. — Benton McDede crawled for the first time Saturday morning at Nelly Korda’s house. The McDede family, Korda’s caddie Jason and his wife, LPGA player Caroline Masson and their nine-month-old son, are houseguests this week along with Korda’s close friend Megan Khang.
“Milestones at my house,” said Korda, beaming.
Home events are rare for players on the LPGA, and Korda is experiencing it for the first time this week at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Bradenton Country Club where she has led all three rounds. The 25-year-old Korda, who was born down the street from the club, has asked fellow players for their tickets all week to accommodate the requests she’s received.
Korda even spotted the wife of her first coach tending the ropes as a volunteer on Friday.
“I was losing teeth during our practice sessions,” she said of how far they go back.
LPGA Drive On: Photos
An eight-time winner on the LPGA and Olympic gold medalist, Korda last won on tour in November 2022. She got off to a slow start on Saturday, missing a string of birdie putts inside 10 feet in gusty winds on demanding Donald Ross greens. While her parents live a mere 15 minutes away (Korda is about 40 minutes away), she hasn’t played too much golf at the 100-year-old club, outside of the occasional U.S. Women’s Open qualifier.
A couple of snap hooks on Nos. 7 and 8 led to bogeys, and Korda found herself down one stroke to Lydia Ko as she made the turn. But the hometown favorite finished in a flurry, making eagle on the penultimate par-5 with a hole-out from a greenside bunker and then birdieing the last to shoot 3-under 68 and bolt to a four-stroke lead at 13 under over Ko, Khang and Japan’s Ayaka Furue.
With Korda, Furue and Khang going off in the final group on Sunday, Khang jokingly wondered whether Korda would even talk to her tonight.
“Maybe I’ll just leave her stuff outside the door today,” said Korda, smiling. “Find yourself a new place. I’m just kidding.”
Ko, 26, won last week’s season-opening Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions after enduring her worst season on tour in 2023 and needs only one more point to reach the 27 required to enter the LPGA Hall of Fame. Ko said she’s actually more comfortable…