Whoa, Nelly! A major title for Korda and No. 1 world ranking

Jun 27, 2021, 3:13 AM | Updated: 4:22 pm

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. (AP) — Nelly Korda powered her way to her first major championship Sunday with a performance worthy of her new status as the No. 1 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 KPMG 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 the Women’s PGA record to par last matched by 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 No. 1 in the women’s world ranking since Stacy Lewis in 2014. Jin Young Ko had held the No. 1 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.”

Her only mistake came when it didn’t matter.

Korda seized control with an iron into the par-5 12th for the 8-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 No. 14 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.

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

Korda’s older sister, Jessica, was among the first to embrace her on the 18th green as the tears began to below, 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. She easily held down the fourth American spot for the Olympics in Japan.

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Whoa, Nelly! A major title for Korda and No. 1 world ranking