Nelly Korda enters record books with fifth straight LPGA Tour win

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THE WOODLANDS, Tex. — Entering this weekend’s Chevron Championship, Nelly Korda insisted that all women’s golf needed was a stage to elevate its profile at a time of burgeoning interest in women’s sports. On one of the LPGA Tour’s biggest, the world’s top-ranked player delivered again, extending her winning streak to a record-tying five and claiming her second major championship.

With a birdie at the 18th hole Sunday, Korda shot a 3-under-par 69 in the final round at the Club at Carlton Woods to finish at 13-under 275, two strokes clear of Sweden’s Maja Stark. Korda joined Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam as the only players to have won five consecutive starts.

Starting the final round one stroke behind 54-hole leader Hae Ran Ryu, Korda went in front to stay thanks to a bogey-free front nine. By the time she made the turn, Korda held a three-stroke lead over Ryu and Brooke Henderson, all playing in the final group.

“It’s so hard to win out here, and I say that with all honesty that it is really, really hard to win out here,” Korda said not long after celebrating with a leap into a lake by the 18th green in a long-standing tradition at this event since it was known as the Nabisco Dinah Shore. “The competition is getting harder and harder every year. I think women’s golf is trending in a great direction, and hopefully we can showcase it to everyone as well.”

Korda’s triumph comes just weeks after former Iowa point guard Caitlin Clark, another of the most captivating draws in women’s sports, helped garner record television ratings during the NCAA tournament’s Final Four, including 18.7 million viewers for the national championship game in which the Hawkeyes lost to undefeated South Carolina.

Some of the top players on the LPGA Tour, most notably world No. 2 and 2023 Chevron champion Lilia Vu, compared the attention Korda has brought to women’s golf to what Clark did for women’s basketball. The LPGA Tour, meanwhile, has been promoting Korda as the face of the industry during a time of record payouts.

In winning her first major since the 2021 PGA Championship, Korda collected a first-place check for $1.2 million, the most in the history of the first of five majors on the LPGA Tour calendar. The total purse for the tournament stood at $7.9 million, a record for the Chevron Championship and a boost of $2.7 million from 2023.

“It’s an amazing feeling because all the hard work and the doubt that I had in my head from 2021,” Korda said. “I worked through it, and 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 much fun out here.”

Korda’s remarkable run comes at the same time that a fellow American is similarly dominating men’s golf. Scottie Scheffler, the world’s top-ranked man, is on the verge of winning the weather-delayed Heritage, which will give him four wins in his past five events, including the Masters. His other result: a tie for second.

Korda, 25, made it clear before the tournament that how she managed the par-5s would significantly affect her chances at the season’s first major championship. She birdied both par-5s on the front side Sunday, starting with the 490-yard fourth, where her second-shot approach landed in a green-side bunker to the left of the flagstick.

She blasted to inside of a foot for a nerve-free birdie to get to 12 under. Henderson, at the time one shot off the lead, skulled her third-shot pitch over the green and into the same bunker as Korda. She needed two shots to reach the putting surface and two-putted for a double-bogey 7.

The lead grew to three shots for Korda at the par-5 eighth, where she split the fairway but hit her approach over the green. The ball settled just off the fringe, and Korda chipped to six feet before sinking the putt for her third birdie on the front nine. Henderson made par, so Korda hit the turn firmly in command, set to become the first player to win five straight events since Sorenstam in 2004 and 2005.

“I mean, just on the run that she’s going right now, not many people have done that in our sport,” said Lauren Coughlin, a college standout at Virginia who finished tied for third in the best showing of her career.

So at peace was Korda going into the final round that she took several minutes before her tee time to interact with young autograph seekers. Then she acknowledged a line of preschool-age girls wearing pink and screaming her name as she made her way to the No. 9 tee box.

That has been Korda’s way since she joined the LPGA Tour in 2017, attracting a loyal following with her accommodating demeanor combined with power and precision on the course that has yielded 13 victories on the LPGA Tour and sponsorships with TaylorMade and Nike.

The victory was even more defining given Korda was unable to finish her third round because play was suspended because of heavy rain and lightning late Saturday. She was on the 12th green when tournament officials halted play. After waking up around 4 a.m. Sunday, Korda headed to the course to complete her third round and had a roughly two-hour wait to start her fourth.

“I’m not surprised, I will tell you,” U.S. Solheim Cup captain and 2011 Chevron champion Stacy Lewis said. “It’s very impressive. … The amount of energy it takes to do that, I thought you would’ve maybe seen a little drop in play at Match Play [two weeks ago] just getting a bit more tired, but the ball striking has always been so good for her. Short game gets a little better. The confidence to be in that position, I think that’s what you’re seeing now.”

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