Nelly Korda makes it four straight with Match Play victory

Sarah Kellam / LPGA

LAS VEGAS, NV: The first win felt like a long time coming. The second was a breath of fresh air. The third was reminiscent of her 2021 season, a year that saw the now 25-year-old capture four victories, including her first major title, and win gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

But the fourth? There’s only one word to describe Nelly Korda’s latest triumph – dominant.

You could feel it coming when she played her way into the top eight at the T-Mobile Match Play presented by MGM Rewards, when she defeated her Solheim Cup teammate Angel Yin 3 and 2 in the quarterfinals and when she trounced Narin An 4 and 3 in the semis. But you might have thought Leona Maguire would’ve given the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings No. 1 some pause in the championship match, especially as the Irishwoman has beat Korda in three of their four Solheim Cup matchups.

Think again.

Korda came out swinging on Sunday afternoon, winning four of her first seven holes to go 4 up early on Maguire. The Irishwoman won the par-4 9th hole to get back to 3 down, but the American wouldn’t let her up for air, burying a midrange par putt to win No. 10 and then hitting the pin with her second shot on the par-4 12th hole to set up another birdie opportunity, one Korda capitalized on to move five ahead with six holes to play.

Maguire tried to mount a charge late in the day at Shadow Creek, winning the 13th hole after a Korda concession and then getting back to 3 down after hitting a spectacular approach shot on the 14th hole to inside 10 feet and draining her resulting birdie putt. But Korda just couldn’t be stopped, ultimately landing one final blow on 15 to win 4 and 3 over Maguire and capture her fourth consecutive LPGA Tour victory, becoming the first player since Lorena Ochoa in 2008 to earn four straight Tour titles.

“I can’t even wrap my head around it, honestly. Such a whirlwind the last three weeks,” said Korda. “I feel like I was in go-mode constantly. It will be nice to go home and see my whole family. Jess is driving up with Greyson, so I’m super excited. Played really well today. I stuck to my game plan of fairways and greens and made the least amount of mistakes.”

With her 12th LPGA Tour victory, Korda can now fully assert herself as one of women’s golf generational talents. She is the first American player to win in four or more consecutive starts since Nancy Lopez won five straight tournaments in 1978 and joins Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa as the only other player in the last 40 years to win four or more tournaments in a row. She is also the second player since Sorenstam to win four events before entering a major championship, as Korda is set to tee it up in The Chevron Championship in a week’s time.

And she is also now in the same breath as Kathy Whitworth – the winningest professional golfer of all time – becoming the second American player ever to win four of her first five starts in a single season with her match-play win over Maguire on Sunday, esteemed company the young superstar is incredibly grateful to keep.

“Kathy’s really good friend actually texted me last week a photo of me being compared to Kathy on social media. I wrote her back that it’s an honor to be alongside her,” Korda said. “I used to play in her event growing up, The Kathy Whitworth Invitational in Texas, and meeting her and getting to talk to her was always the highlight of my year. She was always so, so nice, so getting compared to Kathy Whitworth is a huge honor.”

But can she keep this win streak going?

Well, if recent trends are any indication, Korda shouldn’t be counted out at The Chevron Championship. In fact, she’s likely already the favorite to win her second major title at The Club at Carlton Woods after this latest performance in Las Vegas, and she’s still feeling good both mentally and physically despite this marathon of impeccable golf, a testament to Korda’s tenacity and a gauge of just how high her ceiling might be if this form continues.

“I don’t know if it’s going to hit me when I get home, but I feel really good,” said Korda. “Thankfully, I have a lot of consistency in my life. I see the same people every single day. I do the same stuff every single day. I try to stay in my own little bubble, and I feel like mentally that’s the best thing that you can do for your mental health is stay in a routine.

“I love competing. I love golf. I, hopefully, am inspiring the next generation. But there is no greater thrill for me than competing and being out here and seeing the girls and going head-to-head for a title. There is no greater feeling, and I have to say I love the sport so much, and I love competing.”

And after celebrating her victory at the Ford Championship presented by KCC with an almond croissant and a long, five-hour drive to Sin City – one that has now proven to be more than well worth it – Korda plans to properly commemorate this latest triumph as she revels in the thrill of her fourth 2024 LPGA Tour victory and soaks in what she just accomplished at the T-Mobile Match Play.

“I went to Paris Baguette. I got so much stuff,” Korda said. “For the whole team and I, not just for me. Then I think we’re going to get In-N-Out burger and Five Guys fries. I feel like that’s an elite combination. I don’t drink, so I’m just carb-loading.”

Fairways Magazine

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