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Korda sees patience as key to first major

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RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Jessica Korda moved into position Friday to make a weekend run at winning the ANA Inspiration.

There was a triumph, of sorts, in that.

“I was happy to make the cut,” Korda said.

She wasn’t kidding.

This 25-year-old knows how to win. She’s a five-time LPGA winner. She won just five weeks ago at the Honda Thailand.

But when it comes to majors, she’s still learning what it takes.

“My goals were set kind of low because of how I've been playing in majors before,” Korda said. “I'm taking it one day at a time.”

But . . .

“Loving the position I'm in so far,” she said.

Korda is playing in her 36th major championship. She has two top-10 finishes in all those starts. She has a lot more missed cuts, 15 of them. She once missed seven cuts in a row in majors during the 2015 and ’16 seasons.

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So, yeah, Korda doesn’t have a great history in the majors,  but she has never entered one as fully equipped as she is this week.

With a birdie at her 18th hole Friday, Korda closed out a 4-under-par 68, moving her three shots off the lead.

“Honestly, at the beginning of the day, I was like, `OK, even par is a good round out here,’” Korda said. “These pins are tucked. It was a tough day.”

Korda’s game is more geared to tough conditions now, with her short game a match for her ball striking, and with her putting better than it’s ever been.

Korda is 9th on tour in driving distance this season, averaging 270 yards per drive. She’s 16th in hitting greens in regulation.

Notably, she is first in putts per greens in regulation (1.65).

And she’s first in putting average (28.5 putts per round).

Korda has never finished a year better than 20th in putts per GIR or better than 38th in putting average.

Korda has a game plan, and patience is a big part of it.

“I know what I'm doing,” she said. “I'm sticking to my process, and it all depends on if these putts are going to drop or not. That's the difference out here.”