Korda claims maiden major at Women’s PGA

Nelly Korda made two eagles on the final day of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship as a 68 earned the American a maiden major title with a three-shot victory over Lizette Salas in Atlanta

Last Updated: 27/06/21 11:25pm

Nelly Korda claimed her first major in Atlanta

Nelly Korda claimed her first major in Atlanta

Nelly Korda powered to her maiden major title as she claimed a three-shot victory over Lizette Salas at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

Korda struck a decisive blow at the long 12th, where she made her second eagle of the final day, while Salas dropped only her second shot of the tournament, and another birdie at 14 took her five shots clear of her fellow American with four to play.

The 22-year-old, daughter of former tennis star Petr Korda, then gave her main rival a glimmer of hope when she blocked a six-iron into the water at the short 16th and ran up a double-bogey five.

But, with Salas unable to apply the pressure as the birdie putts refused to drop down the stretch, Korda safely negotiated the final three holes without any further distress to add another major victory to the family collection, following her father’s lone Grand Slam tennis title at the Australian Open in 1998 – seven months before Nelly was born.

Korda beat Lizette Salas by three shots

Korda beat Lizette Salas by three shots

The top two shared the overnight lead at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Georgia, and, after trading two opening pars, it was Korda who edged ahead with a birdie at the third before she hit one of the shots of the tournament at the long fifth, her arrow-straight second pulling up a few inches short of dropping for an albatross.

She tapped in for eagle before Salas followed her in for birdie and she then pulled another shot back at the next, but they both parred the next five holes before the huge, three-shot swing at the 12th put Korda in firm control of the tournament.

The young American managed to hold onto her three-stroke advantage to enjoy a procession on the 72nd hole, and she finished off in style as she holed a 15-foot putt for par to put an exclamation mark on a 68, for a winning score of 19 under.

Korda made two eagles in her final-round 68

Korda made two eagles in her final-round 68

Korda went into the third major of the year as the pre-tournament favourite having landed her second LPGA Tour title of the season at last week’s Meijer LPGA Classic, and her victory in Atlanta also took her to the top of the Rolex World Rankings, ending Jin Young Ko’s 92-week reign.

“I had a great week last week, and I just carried the momentum into this week,” said Korda. “I’ve put in a lot of work, and to get three wins under my belt this year, and to get a major championship, I don’t even have the words, honestly.

“This is something that I’ve worked for since I was 14, since I played in my first one. I wanted to be a major champion, and to finally get it done here in Atlanta with such an amazing crowd, honestly, it’s really special.

“It’s a dream come true. A major championship and No 1 in the world; is this week even real? It’s amazing.”

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Salas also parred the last for a 71 and had the consolation of matching her best finish in a major, although she would have cause to feel hard done by having covered 72 holes in 16 under with just two bogeys on her scorecard.

With the leaders separating themselves from the rest of the field, Hyo Joo Kim and Giulia Molinaro shared the final podium place, with Kim birdieing the 17th and 18th to cap a 68 and finish on 10 under.

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Italian Molinaro had given herself an outside chance of reeling in Korda when she eagled the fifth and made her second birdie of the day at 12 to get to 13 under, but she dropped four shots in three holes from the 15th before a birdie at the last hauled her back level with Kim in a tie for third.

Danielle Kang, the 2017 PGA champion, raced into a share of fifth on eight under after she returned a five-under 67, with ANA Inspiration champion Patty Tavatanakit settling for a top-five finish after a disappointing 74.

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