Nelly Korda Secures First Major, Lydia Ko Finishes Back in the Pack

Nelly Korda with the 2021 Women's US PGA Trophy (Twitter)
Nelly Korda with the 2021 Women's US PGA Trophy (Twitter)

Nelly Korda finished at 19-under for the week and won her maiden major title by three shots over fellow American Lizette Salas in the KPMG Women’s US PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club.

After Korda calmly rolled in a par-saving attempt on the 72nd hole she raised both her arms in triumph before wrapping them around her sister, Jessica, in a tearful embrace.

“I’m so proud of you,” Jessica told her after witnessing Nelly’s victory which seemed never in doubt across the final day.

The win will take Korda to No.1 in the world this week, and she will be the first American to hold top spot since Stacy Lewis in 2014.

“I’ve just been constantly trying to inch towards (the No.1 spot) and to finally get it is amazing,” said Korda.

“It’s been amazing, honestly. The past few days, the battle with Lizette, it’s been a lot of fun. It’s been stressful. I think it’s had everything,” said Korda, who played with Salas on both Saturday and Sunday. “But I just can’t believe it. I’m still in shock.”

Korda also won last week on the LPGA Tour at the Meijer LPGA Classic and earlier in the year at the Gainbridge LPGA.

Korda’s boyfriend (Andreas Athanasiou, who plays for the L.A. Kings in the NHL) has been with her the last few weeks and was on site when she missed the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open. She joked that her early exit was his fault. The next week, while at home, Korda said Athanasiou asked for a win.

“Then I got him a win at Meijer and he’s like, ‘You did it for me.’ And I’m like, ‘No, I did it for myself.’

Kiwi Lydia Ko struggled all weekend, not able to shoot under par for any of the four rounds, finishing on 3-over and tied for 52nd place.

Korda’s three victories have come on different stages, and none bigger than her KPMG Women’s PGA Championship accomplishment – although she said, with a laugh, all the effort she’s put in recently has aged her.

“I feel like I’m 30, in a sense,” she said with a smile. “You have to grow up so fast being on Tour, traveling, managing everything yourself. I don’t even feel like a 22-year-old.”

Nelly Korda on the final day of the 2021 Women's US PGA Trophy (Twitter)
Nelly Korda on the final day of the 2021 Women’s US PGA Trophy (Twitter)

Korda shot matching 4-under 68s on the weekend after firing a Championship record-tying 63 on Friday. Korda’s win was the fifth by first-time major winners at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in the last six years.

“I go into obviously every year wanting to succeed and wanting to reach my goals and to finally check this off my list feels so nice,” said Korda.

Salas matched her best-career finish at a major championship this week and has now notched top-10 finishes in three of her last four KPMG Women’s PGA Championship starts.

Hyo Joo Kim and Giulia Molinaro tied for third at 10-under for the week while Patty Tavatanakit and Danielle Kang finished at 8-under and tied for fifth.

But it was Korda’s week, and certainly Korda’s day on Sunday.

In the last three weeks Korda has missed a cut and then won twice, including her first major at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

“I guess that’s the motto you have to have. It’s golf… I bet you I’m going to miss so many more cuts and hopefully I have a lot more wins,” said Korda, “but you look back at this situation and you’re like, ‘OK, I can do it. I can bounce back.’”

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