Australia

At 22 years old, Nelly Korda is a PGA champion and on top of the golf world

Nelly Korda has powered her way to her first major championship with a performance worthy of her new status as the number one player in women’s golf.

Korda nearly holed out with a 7-wood from 243 yards for a tap-in eagle, and the 22-year-old American seized control by using her length from that graceful swing for another eagle that sent her on her way to victory in the Women’s PGA Championship.

She finished with a 15-foot par putt for a 4-under 68, giving her a three-shot victory over Lizette Salas at the Atlanta Athletic Club.

At 19-under 269, she tied for the record score to par at the tournament. The most recent winner to reach 19-under was Inbee Park at Westchester Country Club in 2015.

Korda won for the second straight week on the LPGA Tour — her third this year — and it was enough to become the first American at number one in the women’s world ranking since Stacy Lewis in 2014. Jin Young Ko had held the top spot for nearly two years.

“I put in a lot of work,” Korda said.

“To get three wins under my belt and get a major, I don’t even have words.”

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Her only mistake came when it didn’t matter.

Korda seized control with an iron into the par-5 12th for the eight-foot eagle putt, a three-shot swing when Salas — who had to lay up on the hole — hit wedge over the green into a bunker and made bogey.

Korda made an 18-foot birdie putt on the 14th to stretch her lead to five shots with four holes to play. She ended 49 consecutive holes without a bogey by hitting into the water on the par-3 15th for a double bogey.

But she steadied herself with a pair of pars and played it conservatively down the par-5 closing hole over water.

Korda finished the tournament at 19-under, three shots clear of the closest challenger.(

AP: John Bazemore

)

Salas closed with a 71 in her bid to win a first major, and her first LPGA Tour title in seven years.

Korda’s older sister, Jessica, was among the first to embrace her on the 18th green as the tears began to flow, and before long the newest major champion was doused with champagne.

Jessica Korda finished much earlier — they shared a hug as Nelly was teeing off and Jessica was making the turn — though the older sibling had another reason to celebrate having easily held down the fourth American spot for the Olympics in Japan.

Gabriela Ruffels was the best placed Australian, finishing in a tie for 33rd at even par for the tournament.

AP


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