PHOENIX — On a day when low scores were abundant at Wildfire Golf Club, it was Anna Nordqvist’s 61 that took the lead in round three of the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Nordqvist 11-under par in Saturday’s round set a new tournament course record, previously a round of 62 set in 2016.
The score ties her career low round, which she previously shot in the third round of the 2013 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
Nordqvist went out in the afternoon and got off to a quick start with a 5-under par, 31 on her first nine of the day. This event has a hometown feel for Nordqvist who carded a career-best T-6 in 2015.
“Absolutely, they always say that home is where the heart is, and my heart is definitely still here. I always say I’m a west coast girl and people remind me I’m from Sweden,” said Nordqvist. “Even though I live in Florida now, this definitely feels like home. ASU here and Missy Kaye being the coach now, the team support. My sponsor’s here. I have family and friends here or seemed like family.
“So I was staying with friends this week. It’s just been a fun week. It’s been busy first week back in the U.S., but just always feel special coming back here. I wish I could more often. Definitely, have a big smile on my face this week.”
Nordqvist holds a two-stroke lead ahead, opening round playing partners, Ariya Jutanugarn and Stacy Lewis.
“Yeah, I had a great first two days with Stacy and Ariya. I think we were 36-under par as a group for the first two days. Someone seemed to be birdieing almost every hole,” said Nordqvist.
“They are fast players. We kept a good pace the last two days. Obviously great to see putts go in and other players playing well. Kind of tried to feed off them a little bit today. Love twosomes. Just seemed to be cruising out there today.”
Jutanugarn who carded a bogey-free 66 that included a stretch of three consecutive birdies on the back nine.
“I mean, I’m starting to make some putt today. Even I miss like pretty short one, but today is pretty good,” said Jutanugarn.
Having been in this position before Jutanugarn’s focus was to have fun.
“I think, I mean, I just really want to have fun, and I’m going to work on my commitment tomorrow,” Jutanugarn said. “I’m not going to worry about the future — don’t worry about the outcome. So I’m going to be really want to commit with every shot I hit tomorrow.”
Taking advantage of hitting 17 of 18 greens, Lewis recorded seven birdies and one bogey cruising to a 6-under par in round three.
“It was good. It wasn’t great, but it was good. Definitely, would’ve liked to have birdied those couple par-5s on the back nine. Felt like I didn’t play those very well,” explained Lewis. “But making those two birdies coming in was huge. With the way this golf course is playing, two back is not a big deal.”
Lewis is excited to be playing in the second to last group tomorrow but for her this week is also about the founders and all the kids with Girls’ Golf being in attendance.
“I love this week. I love not only the founders here, just all the kids with the girls’ golf. I’ve had two girls kind of follow me around all week,” she explained. “It’s really cool to see all the age groups and the way those founders — I mean they love this event and being out here and sitting on 18.
“You couldn’t find many people that would love sitting on a hole for four or five hours, but they do. They love seeing all the players that come through. The current players get to know the founders and get to know their stories and what they did to make this tour what it is.”