Nelly Korda wins LPGA event in thrilling playoff, moves back to No. 1 in the world

Nelly Korda wins LPGA event in thrilling playoff, moves back to No. 1 in the world

Nelly Korda returned to the top of the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings in dramatic fashion.

She won the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship in a sudden-death playoff, defeating American Ryann O’Toole on the first playoff hole with a birdie.

It was an up-and-down round for Korda, who claimed her 10th career LPGA victory and her second of the season. Korda defeated Lydia Ko in a playoff at the LPGA Drive On Championship in January, which also happened to be her last start.

“It’s definitely not easy coming back after a long break like that, not really knowing where your game is,” Korda said after her final round 2-under 69.

“I fought really hard the last three days. The weekend was brutal, and today was tough. That’s the beauty of the game. It’s fun to play in these conditions and be a little bit more artistic out here.”

The conditions at Palos Verdes Golf Club in Southern California on Sunday were undesirable. Thirty-mile-per-hour winds and temperatures in the 50s created difficult situations throughout the day.

It’s no wonder Korda only made seven pars during her final round. She also made five birdies and five bogeys and had an eagle on the par-5 14th, which proved vital.

“Honestly, I didn’t really start feeling nervous until I made that eagle putt,” Korda explained afterward.

Nelly Korda, LPGA

Nelly Korda.
Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images

“I didn’t really know what was going on, how the group behind me was doing. It was so windy, and I was caught up in trying to control my ball flight. Once I made the eagle, I got maybe a little nervous, where I kind of got a little ahead of myself, and I started making some mistakes on the last couple of holes. Eagle, bogey, birdie, bogey, bogey.”

Korda tends to make things interesting, but she still had a chance to win in regulation. She airmailed the 18th green, which led to a tricky up-and-down. Korda could not save par, and made bogey—her third dropped shot over her final four holes.

“I vented to my coach on the putting green and then he asked me if I’m ready to be positive,” Korda said on what she did immediately before the playoff.

“It took a little bit, and then I was ready. And then we talked a little bit, laughed a little bit. He’s really good at just cracking jokes, and sometimes I just give him a pity laugh. It’s usually pretty good. And then, yeah, just when I walked to 18… I told [myself] that I can still win, so just keep my head high.”

This conversation calmed Korda down, as she stuck her approach on the first playoff hole—the 18th—to a dozen feet away.

Korda then drained it for the win.

She is now the top-ranked player in the world, but she certainly never fails to entertain. And that is good for the women’s game, which continues to grow exponentially.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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