Nelly Korda takes the leap into superstardom with major run

Nelly Korda takes the leap into superstardom with major run

Nelly Korda felt sick to her stomach as she chased LPGA history.

Her peers are probably just getting sick of the same ol’ result.

Staying unfazed despite a 25-hole Sunday and a final round that took more than six hours to complete, Korda put the Chevron Championship on ice with a near-ace on the 71st hole and won by two shots for her second career major title.

Even more important were the legends Korda joined in the process: Nancy Lopez (1978) and Annika Sorenstam (2004-05) are the only other players to win five consecutive tournament starts in LPGA history.

The only thing that could cool down Korda was a cannonball into the pond fronting the 18th green at Carlton Woods.

“I can finally breathe,” she said afterward. “I was really nervous on that back nine. I really, really wanted this win. It feels amazing to get it.”

Even with a 4 a.m. wakeup to finish seven holes on Sunday morning, Korda had moved into position for a back-nine coronation before she bogeyed the 11th and 15th holes – ending her streak of 39 consecutive holes without a dropped shot – to sit just two strokes clear with both Maja Stark charging late and Lauren Coughlin already in the clubhouse at 10 under. But on the 17th tee, Korda threw a dart with a 7-iron that tracked toward the flag and banged off the back of the cup, eventually settling about 6 feet away. That she missed the birdie putt didn’t matter – there was no stopping Nelly, not with a reachable par 5 still to play. She tacked on a closing birdie to win at 13-under 275.

“Nelly played amazing,” said Brooke Henderson, who tied for third, “and what she’s doing is pretty incredible.”

And it’s a run that Korda, 25, could only dream about achieving just a few years earlier.

Fresh off a four-win breakout year in 2021, Korda’s rapid rise had been slowed because of a couple health-related issues. The scariest was a blood clot that was discovered in her arm in 2022 that cost her several months, but she also was sidelined last year because of back pain. It was during that time, Korda admitted Sunday, that “a lot of doubt” set in, and she heard several “outside voices” who questioned whether she’d ever be able to fulfill her massive potential.

“Obviously then I was just more scared for my health,” she said. “Competing was on the back seat; I was not thinking about competing at all. But I think of all the sad times and the health scores that I have gone through have made me who I am today. I think it has matured me a lot, and I would say it’s shaped me into the person I am today, and I’m very grateful for the ups and downs.”

Korda has gone only one direction the past few months, winning in a variety of ways – Comebacks! Dominance! Marathons! – and even in different formats, after she prevailed in the match play a few weeks ago.

As Scottie Scheffler closes in on his fourth victory in his last five starts, it only serves to highlight how Korda has moved into a class of her own on the women’s tour. Across this winning streak she has posted a 68.7 scoring average while gaining an eye-popping 3.6 strokes per round on the field. With the win at the Chevron, she became the youngest American to win two majors since Juli Inkster (1984).

Much like Scheffler at the Masters, Korda entered the major week as the prohibitive favorite, withstood a few challenges in the final round and then cemented her status as a player for the ages. And if her fellow competitors were hoping she’d take a break to bask in major glory, well, Korda confirmed her commitment to the tour stop next week in Los Angeles, where she’ll be looking for a record-setting sixth win in a row.

“It’s an amazing feeling because all the hard work and the doubt that I had in my head from 2021, I worked through it,” Korda said. “It’s been an amazing feeling these past couple weeks knowing that I can go on this stretch and that if I stay in my bubble and I keep golf in a sense simple and let it flow, then I can have so, so much fun out here.”