Nelly Korda slams door with two eagles to win first career major
Nelly Korda pulled hybrid off the 18th tee at Atlanta Athletic Club. She hit a tight draw that split the middle of the fairway, admired it for just a moment, twirled her club and strode forward, subtle smile on her face, towards the biggest win of her career.
Korda is a major champion.
The 22-year-old entered Sunday’s round at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship tied for the lead with Lizette Salas and five shots clear of the rest of the field. The day seemed destined for a final-round duel. Korda struck first with a birdie at No. 3 and a spectacular approach to set up a kick-in eagle at No. 5. But Salas hung tough with birdies at 5 and 6 to keep Korda’s lead within one.
It stayed there for a while as the two matched pars on 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11. But the tournament swung on the par-5 12th. Korda took advantage of her length, reaching the green in two and setting up an eagle try. Salas, by contrast, layed up and then flew her approach into the back bunker. When she made bogey and Korda made her eagle putt for a three-shot swing, her lead grew to four.
There was still plenty of golf to play — and Korda made things interesting with a double bogey at No. 15 — but the final stretch felt like a coronation for the superstar. She played No. 18 safely, laying up, playing her approach to the back of the green and ultimately pouring in a 12-foot par putt to cap off a three-stroke victory.
The win marks her second in two weeks, her third of the season and the sixth of her LPGA career. It also jumps her from No. 3 to No. 1 in the world, the first time since 2014 that an American woman has held the top spot in the world.
Her ascent to No. 1 also potentially marks the next era in women’s professional golf. Korda is the rare golfer who can match overwhelming athleticism with the relentlessness that powered her to eight consecutive birdies from the end of Friday’s round into Saturday. There’s no reason to think this won’t be the first major championship win of many.