Nelly Korda says winning Women’s PGA Championship is ‘really special’ as she rises to world No 1

Nelly Korda is presented with the Championship Trophy

Credit: SHUTTERSTOCK

Nelly Korda wakes up on Monday not only as a major champion but also as the world No 1 for the first time. Two eagles in the final round of the Women’s PGA Championship propelled the 22-year-old to a three-shot win in Atlanta. 

In another world, Korda might have been appearing in the opening day at Wimbledon, but she and sister Jessica – who finished 15th at the Highlands Course – chose the fairways over the courts and their father, Petr, could not have been more supportive. 

Now the family trophy cabinet has another piece of precious silverware to go alongside Petr’s Australian Open tennis title he won in 1998. Nelly’s brother, Sebastian, was due on Wimbledon’s Court 14 against 15th seed Alex De Minaur on Monday and it is fair to say he had plenty of inspiration on which to draw.

Nelly started the final day level with fellow American Lizette Salas, but after the former’s brilliant 63 on Saturday it was always ominous for the veteran Solheim Cup player. And so it proved with Korda outscoring Salas 68 to 71 for a 19-under total. 

“Honestly, this is something that I’ve worked for since I was 14, since I played in my first [major], I wanted to be a major champion, and to finally get it done … it’s really special," Korda said. “A major championship and No 1 in the world, is this week even real?” 

Korda ends the near two-year reign of Korean Jin Young Ko, becoming the first American to head the rankings since Stacy Lewis in 2014. When Korda turned professional at 17, she was not old enough to compete on the LPGA Tour as a member but her potential was clear. This is her seventh title and her third this year, after also winning the week before the PGA.

“I’ve just been constantly trying to inch towards No 1, and to finally get it is amazing,” Korda said. “I’ve put in a lot of hard work and to finally get there… I don’t even have the words.”

Jessica was waiting by the 18th to hug her younger sibling in emotional scenes. Petr is in London with Sebastian but was soon on Facetime with his congratulations. It is a rousing family story that is set to become yet more motivational. The three Kordas will all be competing at the Olympics next month.

So Britain’s wait for another female major title on US soil will reach the quarter century mark. Charley Hull and Georgia Hull both fared commendably in tying for 21st, but neither looked remotely likely on the weekend to break the barren run going back to Alison Nicholas in the 1997 US Open.

The consolation for Hull is that she has confirmed her Team GB berth at the Olympics in August, alongside Mel Reid.

Charley Hull will represent Team GB in Tokyo

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

The 25-year-old from Kettering began the tournament in richly promising style, shooting a 68 to lie second. But from there, Hull’s challenge petered out as she played the final three rounds in one-over. Her level par 72 on Sunday featured four birdies on the first five holes and at that stage she was looking good for a top 10 or even better. 

Yet a double-bogey six on the par four eighth essentially derailed her charge and another double-bogey on the 15th all but guaranteed a down-the-pack placing. There was a birdie on the 18th to see her leave Georgia on a positive note and she will be mighty relieved to return to Northants after so long on the road. 

Hall, the 2018 Women’s Open champion, experienced a contrasting week to her countrywoman and friend and, after her tie for sixth in the Meijer Classic the previous Sunday will come back full of confidence for the big European tournaments in the next few months – including the Evian Masters, the Ladies Scottish Open and Women’s Open.

Hall also suffered a double-bogey on that treacherous eighth, but from there played her last 10 holes in two under for a 71. After a poor first few months to the 2021 season, Hall is plainly coming into form. “I’m extremely keen to win another major,” she said. “I tend to play pretty well at Evian and obviously I love the Open and links golf and it’s at Carnoustie this year.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *