JOHNS CREEK, Ga. The tears only came when Nelly Korda hugged her older sister and did not want to leave. This was followed by the spraying of champagne on the 18th green to celebrate a day that would be difficult for her to catch up on even at the age of 22.
With one round she becomes a great champion for the first time and reaches her number 1 in the world.
“Is this week even real?” Korda said. “It’s great.”
Just like her performance Sunday in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.
Korda took her away after a pair of eagles weakened Lizette Salas at the Atlanta Athletics Club and placed an American at the top of the world rankings for the first time in seven years.
Korda nearly picked up a 243-yard 7-yard line for a tick-eater. She takes control by using her length of the graceful swing, leaving her a 6-iron in the par-5 12th hole that narrows the water and sets up an 8-foot eagle shot.
The final shot was a 15-foot par-hole for a 4-under-68 and a three-win over Salas.
“The last few days, the fight with Lizette, it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been stressful. I think it had it all,” Korda said. “But I just can not believe it. I’m still shocked. ‘
At 19-under-269, she tied the PGA record for women tied with the last to equal Inbee Park at Westchester Country Club in 2015.
Korda won for the second consecutive week – her third LPGA title this year – and it was enough to become the first American at number 1 in the world rankings for women since Stacy Lewis in 2014.
Jin Young Ko held the No. 1 spot for almost two years.
Her only mistake comes when it does not matter.
Korda takes control with a 6-iron that she catches heavy enough to worry about. It cannot clear the pond on the 12th par-5 and is relieved when it rolls out to 8 feet for eagle. That turned into a three-shot swing when Salas – who hit hybrids on holes that Korda had short irons at the weekend – hit wedge across the green in a bunker and made fools.
“It was also my favorite wedge,” Salas said. “The good thing is I’m committed to doing the shot. This wind is pretty shaky. Maybe a small drop kick, I do not know. Got a few extra yards out of it.”
Korda made an 18-foot birdie at number 14 to extend her lead to five strokes with four holes to play, ending just 49 consecutive holes without a thug by hitting the par-3 15th in the water strike for a double bow.
But she holds on to it with a few pars and plays it conservatively in the par-5 shut-off hole over water.
Korda’s older sister, Jessica, was one of the first to embrace her on the 18th green when emotions began to rise.
Jessica finished much earlier – they shared a hug when Nelly was pulling down and Jessica was turning – although the older brother or sister had another reason to celebrate. She easily achieved the fourth American place for the Olympic Games in Japan.
It was a big celebration for one of the top sports families in the world. The Korda sisters each have six LPGA wins. Their younger brother, Sebastian, is at Wimbledon this week as the 50th player in men’s tennis and has a chance to compete with them in Tokyo for the Olympic Games.
Their father is Petr Korda, who won the 1998 Australian Open in tennis.
“You only realize it before someone really talks about it, because we’re always in the zone like that,” Korda said of the family success. “We always just strive to achieve more, and that our family just needs to support each other in every situation … it’s so surreal.”
Salas, who felt a burden lifted this week when she began over emotional battles exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, finished with a 71 and made Korda work for it.
They started the final round tied with the lead, five times better than anyone else, and it was going on until the 12th hole.
Korda took the lead on the third hole with a birdie. Even after jumping on the fifth eagle, Salas bounced back with a shot on the achievable par-4 sixth that set up birdie to narrow the gap to one shot.
But it all turned out so fast. Salas had a 15-foot birdie in 10th place to take the lead. Two holes later, she was four strokes behind against a player Salas did not want to allow in the game again.
“She played great and I could do nothing else to change her game plan, and that says a lot about her,” Salas said. “I’m just happy she’s on the American side for that Solheim Cup.”
Korda is the first American to win a major since Angela Stanford in the Evian three years ago, and it has extended a major year for American women’s golf. Americans have won the LPGA Tour six times this season. South Korea and Thailand are next with two pieces.