For Team USA Nelly Korda settled with the women in the last round Olympic golf competition at Kasumigaseki Country Club, winner of the gold medal and fellow team in the USA Xander Schauffele tweeted a special message for her: “Bring home the golden house @NellyKorda! I’ll come see you tonight.”
For 54 holes, the number 1 player proves her dominance on the course. In the final round, she took the lead with three shots and maintained a calmness that no other player seemed. Before the final round began, it presented a series of unknowns, including whether the field of 60 players could complete 72 holes due to an impending tropical storm. But it feels like one of the unknowns was one thing clear: Korda came to win gold.
Even as player after player tried to walk next to Korda on the leaderboard, she held her hand. She played her game. She did what she did best. She stays calm.
When she started sliding, with a double bogey on the seventh, she recovered quickly and rolled in three consecutive birdies. All week, Korda did not shy away from being confident. She was not deterred by the fact that, although she was an Olympic athlete for the first time, she was not really nervous.
“I’ve been really calm the last three days,” she said after the third round. “I did not get really nervous.”
For 72 holes, her game spoke to her: I am number 1 for a reason. When Korda dropped her last putt in the 18th hole, she said everything again without saying anything. She deserved to be there. She deserved it. This gold medal was his.
“It feels incredible,” Korda said. “Lydia [Ko, who took bronze for New Zealand] plays very well, so does Mone [Inami;, who won silver for Japan]. They both played very well, so we were all there. It was very stressful, but I kept it together, I fought pretty hard.
‘I had a very good event, but it does not necessarily mean that you will play well, so try to set the expectations aside and just have a nice fresh week, enjoy the Olympic experience, because it is such a unique and fun experience doing it now for the first time. And as Lydia said, you play for more than just yourself, you also play for your country. Olympic experience. “
It is only a few months since Korda reached the number 1 position in the world. After winning her first major at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the end of June, Korda topped the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. By doing so, Korda becomes only the third American to occupy the No. 1 spot since the rankings were launched in 2006. Stacy Lewis was the last American to claim No. 1, for four weeks in 2013 and 21 weeks in 2014. Prior to that, Cristie Kerr held the position for five weeks in 2010.
With more than 60 countries represented, the LPGA is still one of the most diverse sports leagues. This season, players from 10 different countries have won events. And in Tokyo, there were 35 countries represented with three countries reaching the podium (the United States, Japan and New Zealand).
Since her rookie season in 2017, Korda has scored six wins, including one major. While it was no surprise that Korda was successful, she is showing a new kind of dominance this year.
A dominance we have not yet seen from an American player.
A domination that ended South Korea’s Jin Young Ko100 weeks at the top of the rankings.
A dominance that won gold during her first appearance at the Olympics.
A dominance that won Team USA’s first medal in women’s golf since 1900 (golf returned to the Olympics in 2016 after a 112-year absence; no Americans stood on the podium in 2016).
It was the first player (male or female) to win a major and the Olympic gold medal in the same year.
With the victory of Korda, the USA won a gold medal in golf during these Games. In total, the U.S. had four men and four women in the top-15 in each of the golf competitions.
“It’s a total BOAT status for me,” Jessica said of her sister’s year.
Even with a gold medal around her neck and her recent achievements on Tour, Korda is still looking ahead and trying to figure out how to continue, how to maintain the No. 1 rankings.
“With sports, it’s so different because you’re constantly looking forward,” Korda said. “It will never really sink in. I think I will look back on the season after the season is over, but at the moment there are still a lot of great opportunities coming. If I look back, it’s just crazy.
“My parents always say I’m a lion because I’ve always been very determined and focused on what I want from a young age.”
At the moment, for both American and women’s golf, Korda is the forerunner. And she does not look back.