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Published: Saturday, 8/11/2012

COMMENTARY

Just a little 'incentive' helps Korda

BY DAVE HACKENBERG
BLADE COLUMNIST

There are two money lists in professional golf, in this case the LPGA Tour, the one that's published every week and the one even the IRS never sees.

Jessica Korda and Vicky Hurst, two friends from Florida, were paired together during the opening two rounds of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.

On Thursday, Korda shot 73 and Hurst carded a 74, so-so stuff in both cases. When they met on the 10th tee to start their second rounds, they decided to spice it up a little.

"Let's have a game," Korda said.

"What are you thinking?" Hurst asked.

"Oh, say $20 a birdie," said Korda.

"OK," responded Hurst.

Bad decision.

Korda had four straight birdies at one point, a total of five on her front nine (the back side at Highland Meadows) and two more coming in during a breezy finish. Hurst had none. Got your checkbook handy, Vicky?

"When I made the last of those four straight, Vicky looked at me and said, 'Dude, really?' I felt a little bad for her," Korda said.

"I think a lot of girls have some side games, at least among friends. Neither of us did a thing [Thursday]. It can be a long round. We just needed to do something to keep it interesting."

Korda certainly accomplished that. She was tied for 105th place after the first round and walked off the course Friday having improved her position by some 85 spots. As a result, the second-year tour player made the cut in a ninth straight tournament.

"I like the weekends," she said.

Who doesn't? The weekend means a payday.

Korda's biggest, to date, came in her first tournament of the year, the Handa Australian Open, where she won a six-person playoff and cashed to the tune of $165,000.

"I'd led all day and then bogeyed three in a row," Korda recalled. "I had to birdie one of the last two to get in the playoff and I birdied 17. We go to start the playoff and there's Stacy Lewis, So Yeon Ryu, Julieta [Granada], Brittany Lincicome, and Hee Kyung Seo … huge names that have all won big events. It didn't seem to be in my favor."

But when she nailed a 25-foot, right-to-left breaker for birdie on the second playoff hole it was all in her favor.

Yes, weekends are fun.

It was two rounds and out the first time Korda played in the Farr. She was an amateur, fresh off the Curtis Cup team, who was given a sponsor exemption in 2010.

"I was nervous, I was tired after the Curtis Cup and I didn't play very well," she said. "I felt bad about missing the cut because Judd was so kind to give me the sponsor invite."

Judd Silverman, the Farr's founder and tournament director, apparently held no grudge.

In the 27th year of the event, Silverman and his wife, Lisa, have taken in a boarder for the first time. It just happens to be Korda.

So they were among her gallery at the final green when Korda saw yet another birdie putt burn the edge of the cup and spin out to cap a round of 65, equaling the day's best under cool and breezy conditions.

"That's my best round ever on tour," Korda, now within five shots of the lead, said. "And it could have been a lot lower. I hit it close and I holed some putts."

She was at 7-under for the day with five holes to play, threatening to go really low, but the wind whipped up and swirled and Highland Meadows found some teeth.

She bogeyed the fifth hole (her 14th) despite hitting every shot just about perfectly.

"That's golf," Korda said. "It's an outdoor sport. It happens. It gave me a lot today and then it took one back. So be it."

She'll be around for the weekend, following one payday with another. Hurst, unfortunately, will not. She'll have to wait another week to get back on the plus side of that unofficial money list.

Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: dhack@theblade.com or 419-724-6398.



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