OLYMPIC GAMES | GOLF
Tokyo Olympics: USA star Korda sizzles in the heat while flirting with 59
Nelly Korda could follow up her first major with an Olympic gold medal after the USA star moved four shots clear after 36 holes.
Nelly Korda narrowly missed out on a 59 in the second round as the world number one took a firm grip on a women's Olympics golf tournament that could be cut to 54 holes.
American star Korda was 11 under on the par-71 course heading to the 18th hole, knowing another birdie would take her below 60.
Such a score would have been the first sub-60 round at the Olympics, but a double bogey scotched that prospect.
It was Korda's only misstep of the day, with the 23-year-old settling for a 62 that moved her four shots clear of the field through 36 holes, on 13-under-par 129.
Storm make playing unclear
It remains to be seen whether all four rounds can be played, with a forecast for stormy weather at the weekend casting some doubt on the prospects for play.
High temperatures have been a troubling factor so far this week at Kasumigaseki Country Club, and Games organisers have moved tee times forward for Friday, with every player due to be out by 09:23 local time, to avoid as much of the intense heat as possible. Players carried umbrellas on Thursday, to keep the sun off.
Korda parred holes one to four on Thursday before hitting a hot streak, picking up six shots by the turn and making five further birdies on the back nine, only to make six at the last.
Asked if she had a 59 on her mind going to the 18th tee, Korda said: "No, not really. I wasn't thinking about it at all. I was like, 'Oh, I've a pretty good lead going into 18'. It's unfortunate with that double on 18, but that's golf. That's just how it goes sometimes."
"Golf humbles you"
She found rough and then a bunker on that final hole, and her verdict that "golf humbles you" spoke volumes of her measured attitude.
Korda, daughter of former tennis star Petr Korda, landed her maiden major title at the Women's PGA Championship in June and now is the front-runner for Olympic gold.
One more solid round may be all it takes if the course cannot be played over the weekend.
Event organisers have said Sunday is a possible back-up day if Saturday, when the fourth round is due to be played, is hit by the weather.
"I'm going to have the mindset that it's going to be a 72-hole golf tournament," said Korda, "and whatever happens, happens."
Tied podium in women's golf
A group of three players share second on nine-under 133, with India's Aditi Ashok there after a 66, joined by Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Emily Kristine Pedersen, who had rounds of 64 and 63 respectively.
Maha Haddioui will not be a factor in the medals shake-up, but the Moroccan had a moment to savour in a round of 74 that put her in a tie for 49th.
She made a hole in one at the 163-yard seventh hole but gave back those shots at the ninth before, like Korda, she too double-bogeyed the 18th hole.